In an exclusive interview with Bukedde TV, Kadaga tells talk show host Charles Sseruga Matovu that Babirye is on sick leave with her permission while Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has okayed Nantaba travel out of the country.
KAMPALA - Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga Friday broke her silence on the prolonged absence of MP Judith Babirye and minister, Aidah Nantaba from Parliament, saying they are away officially.
In an exclusive interview with Bukedde TV (part of Vision Group), Kadaga told talk show host Charles Sseruga Matovu that Babirye is on sick leave with her permission while Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has okayed Nantaba travel out of the country.
“Members of Parliament are just like any other human being. They fall sick and sometimes they travel,” Kadaga said in response to queries about the duo’s prolonged absence.
Babirye, a gospel singer-turned politician, has of late been in news over swirling stories on the grapevine that her marriage to fellow MP, Paul Mukasa Ssebulime has hit a rough patch and teetering on a precipice.
Ugandans in Boston in the US had allegedly claimed that Babirye was in the US. For Nantaba, her fierce political rival, a one Moses Kalangwa sent the question about the ministers’ absence from the House by text to Sseruga.
According to the constitution, a lawmaker loses his/her seat if he/she misses 14 consecutive plenary sittings without the Speaker’s explicit approval.
During the Ninth Parliament, Kadaga invoked the aforesaid provision twice to declare Tony Kipoi and Gen. David Sejusa’s seats vacant.
During the interview, Kadaga discussed a number of issues ranging from Parliament’s preparedness to host the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, Parliament and its operations, electoral reforms, plans to fight poverty in her native Busoga sub-region and her future political plans.
Concerning absenteeism from plenary sessions, the Speaker promised to crack the whip on errant lawmakers. However, she noted that the problem is not as bad as it has been made to look in the media.
“Sometimes, we have Parliamentary committees carrying out oversight work on our behalf. So, if its two committees out, that is 50 MPs not present,” Kadaga said.
The absence of lawmakers denies the House the requisite quorum needed to legislate.
In August 2014, the Constitution Court quashed the Anti-Homosexuality Act that had been passed without the requisite quorum.
The Speaker also parted curtains on her political future, albeit gingerly.
“My people told me that when I am tired of representing them, I tell them. So, they are waiting,” said Kadaga, smiling.
One of the longest-serving lawmakers in Uganda’s history, Kadaga, a former minister, deputy speaker and the first woman to open a law firm in Kampala belongs to a select club of privileged Ugandans who have spent a considerable chunk of their adult lives at the very top of Government.