By Daniel Edyegu
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga’s speech at the burial of Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda, has sparked off a controversy, with reports that the President had also asked her to explain what she told mourners on December 23, 2012. Below is Kadaga’s speech.
To Nebanda’s family, Members of Parliament, the chairman, the people of Butaleja district and all the people of Uganda present here, protocol observed.
On the May 19, 2011, a candle was lit in Butaleja to extend the foothold on the steps of Parliament. We were happy to see her and we had expected her to serve five sessions of the ninth Parliament.
Unfortunately, she has only served one-and-a-half sessions. In order to build her capacity, I endorsed her together with 10 other MPs to go for attachment in the national assembly of Germany called the Bundestag (Berlin). I was fulfilling my commitment to assist new members in capacity building.
We also allocated Hon. Cerinah Nebanda to two important committees of the House – the budget committee and the committee on social services, where we knew that her energies would be utilised.
She has been diligently doing her work. She was always in the plenary and always attending her committee work.
Also because of her size, she was always very visible. But we are also going to miss her voice because she could even speak without a microphone.
We shall miss her vibrant contributions. On December 14, 2012 at about 8:30pm, I was travelling from Namirembe Cathedral where I had gone for the funeral service of my father.
I received a call from the Government chief whip (Lumumba Kasule) informing me that Nebanda appeared not to be well. I found the language he used very serious.
I called the area DPC and told her: ‘But I do not understand – is she sick or what has happened (sic). She said she was not sure. So, I told her please go and find out and let me know as soon as possible.
So she told me she was going to Nsambya Hospital. But I continued receiving calls. Other members called me to tell me that Nebanda had died. So I abandoned my father’s body and I rushed to Mukwaya Clinic on Nsambya Road. I found IGP (Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura) standing outside.
I was led into the room where Cerinah’s body lay. Together with the Government chief whip and other MPs, we were joined by the Director of CIID, Rose Akullo, and a man called Godfrey Musana (deputy CIID chief) who was introduced to me as being in charge of the case.
So I told the Police that we wanted an urgent post-mortem examination of Cerinah Nebanda. We were in a hurry because the body could decompose.
I also discussed with the members of the commission, who had also received information from the family, that they wanted to be represented at the autopsy. Now, I want to confirm that I am the one who gave authority to the Members of Parliament to be present at the autopsy.
I want to say that as a leader of Parliament, I am not satisfied with the contents of the report (autopsy). I want to say that I know my members. I know those who drink and those who don’t. So I know that Cerinah did not drink.
Therefore, it is important that we establish how the alcohol got into her body. If the cocaine was in her body, we want to know how it got there. So we are demanding for an inquest into the death of Cerinah Nebanda, so that we can know whether she got the problem in Parliament or outside Parliament.
And if the Government is not prepared to have the inquest, we the parliamentary commission will apply to court in order to appoint a corona. But I want to thank her (Cerinah) for being a good example. We shall never forget her voice; we shall not forget her work. I pray that her soul rests in peace.
And I appeal to the Members of Parliament to complete her projects. And I want to thank mama (Cerinah’s mother, Alice Namulwa) and the family for the love and care you had for your daughter. May her soul rest in eternal peace.