By Moses Walubiri
KAMPALA - The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has said she is ready to take a shot at the presidency “if the people of Uganda feel I am a good choice”.
Kadaga’s exemplary leadership in the ninth Parliament has earned her praise across a usually fractious political divide, with calls for her to take a shot at the country’s highest office.
But with political pundits trying to read the mind of Uganda’s number three, Kadaga has kept her political cards close to her chest.
In an interview with Urban TV’s Sophie Aniku and later on Bukedde TV mid-this week, a usually cagey Kadaga opened up.
“For now, I am a Speaker. The future will take care of itself,” Kadaga said in response to questions about the possibility of standing for the presidency.
But on further probing, she said: “I am a Ugandan. If people feel that I am a good choice, it is okay,” she said in the interview where she addressed a host of issues, ranging from the proposed constitutional amendments, separation of power, Parliament’s ‘sullied image’ and commercialisation of politics.
Asked whether there is any iota of truth in the media reports that her relationship with Museveni is frosty, Kadaga described them as “mere speculation”.
“I have a good relationship with the President, but this does not mean that I should keep quiet if I am convinced about something.”
The relationship between the Executive and Legislature was briefly strained early last year following attempts by a section of MPs to recall Parliament from a long recess to discuss the fallout from the death of Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda.
Speaker Kadaga's official car at the Vision Group head offices when she visited recently. PHOTO/Kennedy Oryema
About the need for separation of power between different arms of government, Kadaga described it as “work in progress”, but one that deserves to be addressed urgently.
“It is a complex situation,” Kadaga said. “You have MPs who are in Cabinet, and an Attorney General who is a legislator. So, you cannot draw a clear line.”
Citing the example of Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe, Kadaga expressed her reservations about the Executive appointing a clerk to Parliament and the Attorney General handling Parliament’s legal matters.
Although Uganda’s Constitution only provides for checks and balances as opposed to ironclad separation of power between the three arms of Government, Kadaga has recently come out to question the current constitutional arrangement, where the Attorney General handles Parliament’s legal matters.
She also warned against the commercialisation of politics.
“It is dangerous. One day, we shall end up with people who have money, but with no interest of Uganda at heart. It is something we need to look at,” she cautioned.
On the issue of the right of voters to recall errant and nonperforming legislators, Kadaga decried the 2005 constitutional amendment that virtually made MPs ‘untouchable’ the moment they enter Parliament.
She said she would support an amendment to enable voters recall MPs Under Article 84 (7) of the Constitution, the right to recall a legislator cannot be exercised under a multiparty political dispensation.