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CECILIA OGWAL: IT’S REGRETTABLE WE HAVE LOST AN OPPORTUNITY TO HONOR KADAGA WHEN SHE IS STILL ALIVE

Video: MoH MESSAGE ON CHILDREN & MATERNAL HEALTH

By Joel Mugabi

Dokolo District Woman MP Cecilia Barbara Atim Ogwal has told Mulengera News that by erasing Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga’s name from the Institute of Parliamentary Studies (IPS), Parliament has missed a great chance to honor the former Speaker while she is still alive.

Weeks ago, Parliament considered and passed the Administration of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which among others, reversed the autonomy of the Rebecca Kadaga Institute of Parliamentary Studies (RAKIPS) and removed the Kamuli District Woman MP’s name from the same.

The private member’s bill had been moved by Kilak North MP Anthony Akol of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), to which Ogwal belongs. When MPs debated the bill before passing it, elder and senior legislator Ogwal was not in the House. Yet the FDC MP was not only instrumental in the formulation of the Act that had set up RAKIPS as a semi-autonomous body but was the chairperson of the institute’s board whose other members were Anna Adeke Ebaju, Lyandro Komakech, Alex Byarugaba Bakunda, Justine Niwagaba and Dr Stella Kyohairwe.

While she had thought the bill would be referred to a committee where she would have a chance to give her opinion, the piece of legislation was passed in one day. Asked by this publication what she would have said had she been in the House that day, Ogwal said she would have asked Akol what prompted him to draft the bill.

Noting that she would not want to associate parliament with “bad motive,” Ogwal was worried that negative impressions (such as the unfounded rumor that Speaker Jacob Oulanyah would reportedly want to erase his predecessor’s legacy) have a negative impact on the image of the institution.

The FDC MP also explained that the role of IPS wasn’t only limited to training legislators and parliamentary staff. Noting that Parliament was the only arm of government that didn’t have structures up to the local government level, Ogwal said the Parliamentary Commission set out to build local government capacity so that structures such as local councils could become a mirror of the parliamentary system. That given the scope of its operations (since it would include local governments), it was considered prudent to give the institute semi-autonomous powers and a board which would help coordinate activities across the country.

KADAGA’S NAME

According to Ogwal, when she sought permission to move the IPS Bill 2020, the issue of Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga had not come up.

But around the second stage of processing the bill, Ogwal notes, parliament resolved to pass a motion to thank God for healing Kadaga and that MPs were happy the then Speaker’s health was revived and she had even resumed her duties.

In a special sitting, Parliament thanked God for thwarting the devil’s plan to snatch Kadaga, and resolved to name IPS after her in recognition of her contribution to the country’s parliamentary system. As Ogwal rightly notes, even Oulanyah had dedicated some sentences of his inauguration speech to salute his predecessor. The Dokolo Woman MP listed some of Kadaga’s achievements as the expansion of Parliament to the sixth floor, taking back the space of Parliament from other ministries, departments and agencies such as police which was in the northern wing (thanks to what Ogwal calls Kadaga’s assertiveness), the establishment of a five-floor parking lot to ensure the safety of legislators’ and parliamentary staff vehicles as well as the new parliamentary chamber whose construction is currently ongoing.

She also praises Kadaga for putting in place a day care centre for breastfeeding MPs and staff, which facility she touted as an integral part of building capacity for women with challenges in doing their work while fulfilling their reproductive roles at the same time. “This is a facility which is a breaker in the political field because many parliaments don’t have it,” added Ogwal.

The vocal MP further explained that by the time of passing the resolution to name the parliamentary institute after Kadaga, the IPS Bill 2020 was in its final stages. Ogwal narrated that then Deputy Speaker Oulanyah guided that instead of changing the bill to include Kadaga’s name (which would mean abandoning the entire legislation and starting over again), the processing of the bill should continue but should include the resolution to name the institute Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga Institute of Parliamentary Studies (RAKIPS).

Ogwal says the commission had a right to decide on the autonomy and name of IPS because the current leadership has its different style of managing parliamentary affairs. “I am not disappointed; this is not a personal issue. When I am doing something for Parliament, I do it for the good of the country, not my personal good. I have no personal interest in what I am doing,” added the experienced MP.

Meanwhile, the IPS Board Chairperson also thinks the Oulanyah administration might have spoken to Kadaga to explain the need to strip IPS of its autonomy and the erasure of her name from the institute because, unlike her who is from the opposition, the Omoro County MP and the Kamuli legislator are not strangers to each other since they belong to the ruling NRM party.

On why MPs who were in the previous Parliament that supported the resolution to name IPS after Kadaga and are now in the 11th Parliament had changed their mind on removing her name, Ogwal said it was too early to pass judgment since Kadaga could have been consulted on the matter.

Insisting that she has no personal interest in the issue of IPS’ naming or renaming, Ogwal said she was only concerned that Uganda had continued to honor her heroes posthumously. Giving an example of the proposal to rename Wampewo Avenue after the late businessman Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige (BMK), the seasoned politician argued that people like Kadaga who have contributed immensely to the country’s development should be honored when they are still alive. “Why didn’t we rename the road when BMK was still alive? He would have felt proud that he is being appreciated.”

As far as she is concerned, Ogwal says it would be “nonsensical” for MPs to move a motion to name a building or a hall in Parliament after Kadaga when she is dead.

RAKIPS AUDIT

According to Ogwal, even before the RAKIPS Board could do anything since it even didn’t have staff, its members were surprised to receive a letter from the new clerk to Parliament Adolf Mwesige communicating that there would be an audit of the institute’s funds. While that was still sinking in, MP Akol tabled a private members bill to expunge the IPS Act 2020 and strip the institute of its semi-autonomous status, whic

“As far as we are concerned there seems to have been a lot of activity behind the scenes,” suspects Ogwal. “That is entirely the style of management of the new administration. I have no comment to make because members of the board were not consulted before the process was kick started.”

Regarding an audit of RAKIPS’ funds, Ogwal, who is known for pushing for accountability and transparency, says she is very much interested in knowing more about the issue of financial (mis)management – how much was mismanaged, when and in what area. She revealed that the Parliamentary Commission did not involve the Board in the budgeting process for the induction of MPs since procurement for this service started when the legislators were in the campaign period. She added that they could only receive the budget approved by the parliamentary commission for endorsement. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us atmulengera2040@gmail.com).

 

 

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