Published by Patra K on

The juice and honey that flow from office of speaker of parliament

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga & Deputy speaker Oulanyah arriving for Budget reading at Serena Conference Centre (Photo courtesy of Second Opinion)

Why is the current speakership race in Uganda a do-or-die affair? One wonders. The current race has provoked appetite from various persons to aspire, unlike the previous ones. Among the aspiring candidates is Juliet Kyinyamatama, Rakai Woman Member of Parliament-Elect.

Recently, SecretsKnown learned about allegations of voter bribery within Parliament with goodies such as buying of suits, branded wine as well as promises of trips, appointment to committee leadership and ministerial positions, and even jobs for children and relatives, all being fronted.

Prisca Wanyenya, a Parliamentary journalist who appeared as a guest on the weekly online show – ACFIM Talks confirmed the rumors that money is exchanging hands between aspiring candidates for Speaker of the 11th Parliament and the members of the electoral college – the Members of Parliament-elects.

The secret known is that the office of Speaker of Parliament is lucrative. Currently, the speaker’s office receives UGX 3.7 billion ($1.3 million) whereas the deputy speaker UGX 2.5 billion ($ 689,736). This budget was maintained through 2020 even when there wasn’t that much travel due to COVID travel restrictions.

In addition, the position is also the 3rd in the national hierarchy after the President. Thus, there are power dynamics at play as well. Upon retirement, the individual occupying the position of Speaker of Parliament continues to receive 60% of their previous salary as a monthly allowance.

The Speaker of Parliament controls a budget of approximately UGX 4.5 million ($1.241) that is expended as per diem every time they travel. The office has a Private Secretary, Press Secretary, aides, 6 guards as well as the UGX 200 million ($ 55,179) car allowance as entitlement to each member of Parliament.

Richard Sebamala who defeated vice President Edward Kiwanuka Sekandi in the race for Bukoto Central Member of Parliament is also in the running for the same. Sebamala, who was also a guest on ACFIM-Talks, argues that the Speakership race is not only about the money and attractive packages but also a struggle for power.

Ms. Wanyenya cited factors like youth demographics, ethnicity, women, and religion as playing out in the race. She revealed that the Parliamentary Rules committee is seeking to ban public campaigns for the office of the Speaker defending the office as one of honor and dignity.

Mr. Sebamala decried the campaign ban and contended that all elective campaigns require campaigns because people are voted based on ideas, not face value. He claimed that the race is simply an extension of the Central Executive Committee of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) which manipulates the process of choosing the speaker since they have the numbers.

“Ever since the multi-party dispensation, the position of the speaker has gone to NRM through a process orchestrated right from Kyankwanzi and might still go to the ruling party by virtue of their numbers.” Mr.Sebalama alleged. He claimed that the process is being masterminded by the executive behind the scenes. He however urged parliament not to be accomplices to the executive but to agree on what moves the country forward. 

Ms. Wanyenya revealed that, in her I5 years as a Parliamentary journalist, they have never been allowed to cover Parliament’s budget estimates, or when the Parliamentary Commission is appearing before the legal committee.

“Uganda deserves a Speaker that is transparent, non-partisan, accountable, and also accessible to the people. The country also needs an independent Parliament with no interference of other arms of government”, said Wanyenya.

Missed ACFIM-Talks??  You can still watch this conversation if you missed out last week. Click the link below to watch the full video.

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