Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga and the folly of Political Impudence
In Macbeth, William Shakespeare writes about the Thane of Cawdor, where loyalty, fate, ambition, greed, chaos, disorder and fall of man conspire to breed an obsession with power that goes unchecked by moral constraints. Sadly when one has visited the shrines and believes that witches can tell how bright their future is, they never listen to reason, except the daggers in their hand.
The NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC), Parliamentary Caucus, and parliament dominated by NRM this week in a landslide decision selected Jacob L’Okori Oulanyah who had been Deputy Speaker for ten years as Speaker. It was a controversial process needlessly brought by an arrogant, intransigent, and naive Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga.
President Yoweri Museveni often quotes Mathew 7:16-20 “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”
Kadaga has over time shown her fruits with last weekend’s climax when she brazenly rejected CEC decision. Kadaga has been a CEC member since 2005, when Second Deputy Chairperson was created to accommodate her even though it didn’t exist under the NRM constitution. CEC has three times before brought Kadaga by consensus as NRM candidate for Deputy Speaker in 2006 and for Speaker of Parliament in 2011 and 2016.
It baffles why Kadaga believed that she could openly defy NRM decisions and go on public media to disparage Museveni, NRM organs, and every reasonable voice falsely calling them undemocratic, and claiming that without her they wouldn’t be anywhere near political power. For the record, when Legal Notice no.1 was enacted in 1986 to establish the NRM government Kadaga nowhere. When NRM extended its term in 1990, Kadaga was an insignificant voice in Uganda. In 2005, when NRM removed the presidential term limit, Kadaga wasn’t the presiding officer.
The defeat and fall, was seen coming although when early political warning shots were fired repeatedly, Kadaga, through crude arrogance, recklessness and political impudence refused to listen even to the most courteous advise foolishly believing that she had reached the peak of a high mountain. Ebbed forward by false narratives from her gullible surrogates and the media, Kadaga rather than climb down, instead dug her heels deeper into the political clay. Contrary to common sense, Kadaga had illicitly accumulated unrivalled power, sowed harassment and intimidation among cabinet ministers, MPs, government officials and the general public. She also believed that parliament resources were hers to dish official favours, spread patronage and squeeze the disobedient to shield herself from scrutiny and open criticism.
Now, with a heavy fall, the curtain on Kadaga’s three and half decades in national politics courtesy of President Yoweri Museveni’s unending magnanimity could be folding in dramatic, if not humiliating ways, and Kadaga, at 65 years old will find it difficult to re-emerge. It is a self-inflicted pain that Kadaga didn’t have to cause or bring to the NRM where she’s number three from top. Like Lady Macbeth, Kadaga may now embark on sleepwalking, and the sad ending in it all. With that fall, Kadaga has lost the trappings and aura of the speakership especially armed security motorcade that terrorized other law-abiding road users. She will now also seen stuck helplessly in traffic jams.
When Kadaga first entered parliament in February 1989 on affirmative platform created by the NRM, President Museveni gave her meteoric rise to deputise Moses Kigongo as chairman of the interim parliament, the National Resistance Council (NRC). When the Constituent Assembly (CA) convened in April 1995 to debate and promulgate the Constitution, Museveni nominated Kadaga among the five people for selection to chair the assembly. Kadaga had actually contested in Buzaya County to join the CA as a delegate but was walloped by Isaac Musumba.
When the 6th parliament convened in July 1996, Kadaga who had now been re-elected on affirmative action as Kamuli woman MP was appointed State Minister for Works, Transport and Communication. In the intervening periods 1998 and 2001, Kadaga served as State minister for Regional Cooperation, and Parliamentary Affairs. So in a sense, Kadaga has fed for so long from the public trough.
In 2001, Edward Ssekandi and Kadaga were unanimously selected and presented to parliament by the NRM fraternity to become Speaker and deputy respectively, and were returned by consensus to their positions in 2006. When Ssekandi was appointed Vice President in 2011, Museveni proposed Kadaga for elevation to Speakership and Jacob Oulanyah who had then just crossed from the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) chosen by NRM consensus as her deputy.
The acrimonious fallout just witnessed has been mainly because Kadaga tried to walk-back her own plea of 2016 that NRM should let her also serve ten years as Ssekandi had done so that Oulanyah becomes next Speaker if he wins elections in 2021. It was a mischievous attempt to undercut the NRM and twist her dagger in our flesh in the futile hope she had built a stronghold among opposition groups, NRM indisciplinados, and false hubris around women causes. Leaders must be consistent especially when dealing with members of the same fraternity.