The ongoing chain of events in parliament where MPs are asking the tough questions on transparency, accountability, and suspected corruption through negligence, laxity and perhaps connivance, gives collective hope to the good things yet to come from the 11th parliament.
By Ofwono Opondo
In 1986, at the start of his presidency, President Yoweri Museveni made a stopover at a fuel station in Kawempe to get his car tyre fixed and noticed that apart from tyre repairs and re-fuelling vehicles, there weren’t other services offered. When he next appeared at a public function he recounted his story having waited over an hour without refreshments offered to clients. He then advised fuel station and garage owners to establish restaurants so that when clients make stopovers they can refresh and quench thirst.
The Commander Land Forces (CLF) Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF), Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba appears to be, by small steps at a time, entering the national political fray with his recent public posture where well-wishers are nudging him to throw his hat on the presidency in 2026. Although Muhoozi hasn’t stated his ambition, the usual pseudo pundits claim that he’s teasing the waters. Within NRM and government circles there are subdued voices which only time will expose.
The April shouting matches by MPs over steep rises in commodity prices including petroleum products, building materials, and everyday basic necessities, perhaps, signaling the harsh economic times ahead belies the hypocrisy and shallowness among Uganda’s elites.
The seven weeks war, or rather ‘special operations’ in Ukraine as Russians call it might not be going according to what the world anticipated of a lightening run and vanquished Ukraine, but so far, the US, EU and NATO, too have failed to break Russia. It’s now entering what appears to be a stalemate. And yes, millions, made to believe that Western Europe is paradise have fled.
On Friday, the short-lived Speaker of parliament Jacob L’Okori Oulanyah took his final journey of no return to Ayom-lony village, Lalogi sub-county, Omoro district twenty days since his demise at the University of Washington Medical, a cancer centre in Seattle where he had been taken early February with terminal illness. It has also been a period of truly national and colourful mourning, an outpouring of emotions, paying tributes to and celebrations for a short life lived fully. Many will remember the nicknames Oulanyah gave them as acquaintances.
This week, the Extra-Ordinary Summit of six Heads of state from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan admitted the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into the East African Community (EAC) creating one of the largest blocs by geographical size and natural resources potential on the African continent.
My first meeting with Jacob Oulanyah, the deceased former Speaker of the 11th Parliament, was 1987 when as a teacher at Trinity College Nabbingo l had accompanied my students to an academic seminar at Kololo secondary school where he was a senior six student. After the seminar, Oulanyah told me that he had earlier attended Dr Obote college Boroboro, Lira and Layibi college, Gulu, both prominent schools then. He was member Kololo S.S.
Last week Parliament overly dominated by the NRM took an unusual decision to impeach Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zzake and stripped him of membership on its top organ, the Parliamentary Commission over his vulgar spat against Deputy Speaker Anita Among, woman MP Bukedea district. After verbally insulting Among with sexually explicit words on the floor that cannot be repeated here, an aggressive and unapologetic Zzake went to his twitter page, deleted the comments, believing he had erased the trail.
The proposal by the Ministry of Finance to consumptive public bodies not to increase the ceiling of their travel budget in the next financial year 2022/23 is brewing up an unnecessary storm among members of parliament (MPs) who perhaps believe that their work is being undermined. Either out of misunderstanding or otherwise, MPs are insisting that they must be given more money because their work is so important which no one actually disagrees with. One hopes that the storm doesn’t cascade to the other branches of government like the judiciary.