Speaker Kadaga being interviewed by Meddie Nsereko at CBS
RT. HON. REBECCA Alitwala Kadaga speaks out about those showing interest in her seats. Without mentioning any name, the Speaker of Parliament branded them political amateurs with no experience and capacity to bring her down calling them day dreamers who will be defeated.
Featuring on ‘Kkiriza oba gaana’ talk show on 89.2fm Central Broadcasting Service (CBS) radio yesterday (Thursday) night, the most powerful and influential female politician in Uganda said the position of 2nd National Vice Chairperson in NRM she is vying for requires a person with brains, exposure and competence not someone who can’t even express herself.
In the two hours show moderated by veteran journalist Meddie Nsereko Ssebuliba commonly known as ‘Jjogo’, Rt. Hon. Kadaga said, “In NRM, CEC is the top committee of the Party. We have National conferences and District conferences . The work of CEC is to generate views to be considered by the district conferences and others by the National conference. So, this position deserves one with brains. With my presence at CEC, it is a sure deal that views about our party will be delivered.”
Bukono County MP Persis Namuganza has already shown interest in the same CEC position while in Kamuli, FDC faded politician Salaamu Musumba will contest against popular Kadaga.
Speaker categorically said, those standing against her are bankrolled by her enemies in NRM.
“Let them all come, I will defeat one by one.” Vowed Speaker Kadaga.
In the interview, Kadaga was asked about Parliament work, her achievements as the Speaker, the row between Parliament and Executive, the issue of 10B, Landlord Vs tenants war among others.
We reproduce the full interview, word per word;
Cbs: You are most welcome Rt. Hon. Speaker Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga
Kadaga: Thank you. I am also happy to be here. Good evening to you all our listeners.
Cbs: Speaker, when our people knew about your coming, they were very excited. They have issues with your Parliament, laws you pass and Kamuli politics. First in Parliament, you have been Speaker for almost 10 years. What are your achievements?
Kadaga: Thank you Mr. Meddie Nsereko. We have achieved a lot. First of all, Parliament was constructed in the 1960s when Uganda was getting Independence and they stopped at the 5th floor. It has been during my leadership as the Speaker that the 6th floor was added. We are now putting up a new Parliament (building). The one where we sit was originally built to accommodate only 90 Members of Parliament but today we are more than 400. This puts your Members of Parliament at risk. I had to urgently work on a new building, a better Parliament for all MPs.
When I took over speakership, I led Parliament to change Parliament committee leadership. Commitees were originally led by male MPs. I made sure that laws are amended and as we speak today 40% of the committee leaders are women. I put up the first day care center ever for breastfeeding MPs and Parliamentary staff for the safety of their children as mothers are executing their duties. I am happy that other Parliaments in the region have copied us. At the beginning of this year, we amended Local Government laws. You could find a female district councilor representing three to four sub counties yet a male counselor is representing one Sub county. We said this was unfair, that was an overload. I am happy that in the coming elections, each sub county will be represented by one female district councilor. There is also the certificate of Gender equity which I fought for. Now it is in the Public Management finance Act. This stipulates that each budget passed, must strictly indicate which funds will cater for women, men and children. This is the first world over. To me, it is a great achievement. We have done a lot but for now, let me stop at that.
Cbs: Tell us, which controversy has been passed by Parliament under your stewardship?
Kadaga: Many of them. The first one is Domestic relations bill (Family law). We worked on 16 clauses and on the way, it confused us. But we expect the minister of Justice who initiated it to come back and finish it before the end of the 10th Parliament.
Cbs: Where is the problem?
Kadaga: It involved too much lobbying. We decided to put it aside for a moment.
Cbs: Don’t you think madam Speaker, if this law had been passed, the too much domestic violence where people are killing each other in families would be sorted out? As a female lawyer, why don’t you work on that bill once and for all?
Kadaga: It’s true domestic violence has increased. I will put it back on the order paper for the Minister of Justice who initiated it to return and we complete it. This law is urgently needed.
Cbs: Which other law was controversial?
Kadaga: We have the Landlord-Tenant law. Each party had their own interests. It took us some time, however we passed it, although the President has not signed it. There is also the law on Genetic Engineering, it also involves too much lobbying.
Cbs: Rt. Hon. Speaker, you are not mentioning the amendment of Article 102 (b) to lift the Presidential Age limit!
Kadaga: Yes but this wasn’t all that controversial. It didn’t involve too much lobbying.
Cbs: But it’s on record Parliament was raided by security officials, your MPs were seriously beaten, you even visited some who were bedridden at Lubaga Hospital, many were arrested and you say the Age limit bill was not all that controversial? Yet all international cameras were on Uganda and at Parliament during that time?
Kadaga: It’s true Parliament was raided but it was not hard to find a solution in passing it into a law. The only area which was controversial is when the Parliamentary legal committee included the two years extension of Parliamentary tenure, which was not in the original bill.
Cbs: Who then tampered with the original bill?
Kadaga: It was put in the committee report
Cbs: What is your take about the army that raided Parliament?
Kadaga: It was absurd! I asked for investigations but I have never got the report.
Cbs: Who is supposed to avail you that report?
Kadaga: The President. He is the Commander in Chief. I wrote to him inquiring about his men who attacked Parliament and why. I have never got a response.
Cbs: Are you still waiting for the response?
Kadaga: Sometimes you have to let it go. You can’t keep on waiting all the time. You just go and do other business.
Cbs: Or you need to remind him? The president is ever busy.
Kadaga: We all have other work to do.
Cbs: Parliament has passed many laws, do they represent the views of your voters? What are their effects on the ordinary person?
Kadaga: It depends on which law. For instance the OTT or Exercise bill, the ordinary person feels it. Look at the Traffic and road safety Act. It’s our responsibility to enact such laws to govern the country.
Cbs: Tell us about the relationship between Parliament and the Executive
Kadaga: We are moving on…..
Cbs: But we hear voices from Executive talking about you as a person
Kadaga: If you are not talked about, just know you are not influential. Those talking about me do so because Rebecca Kadaga is powerful.
Cbs: Rt. Hon. Speaker, can we then believe that the relationship between the two arms of Government, Parliament and Executive is healthy?
Kadaga: Well they are mandated to bring business to Parliament but if they don’t, we push them. However we are moving.
Cbs: You hosted the International Parliamentary Union (IPU). Public thinks a lot of funds were spent. How does the taxpayer benefit in such conferences?
Kadaga: You see, such conferences are majorly for marketing our country. Uganda had never hosted IPU. We had it that year of the Golden Jubilee of Uganda Independence. It was so good. I want to assure you that a big number of the visitors we hosted in the 2012 conference, have kept on returning with their families for tourism. Don’t you think they come with foreign exchange? We marketed Uganda.
Last year we hosted the Commonwealth conference after 52 years when we last held it here. The first one was in 1967. During my leadership, we had it again. Am sure, this marketed us more.
Cbs: Recently, traders petitioned you. How is Parliament going to help them on tax increment, URA has abnormally increased taxes and many are considering running out of business.
Kadaga: It’s true they petitioned. They brought me samples of clothes many are dealing in. The minister for Finance first told us that this move was to protect local industries but when l looked at their products, they were not made in Uganda. So there was no industry he was protecting. I met URA officials, one in charge of domestic taxes and another for customs and they also talked about protecting Uganda industries. But I reasoned that the clothes traders showed me were different. No industry here makes such products. Ours are made out of cotton, theirs are not. So we agreed, next week, I will go with these URA officials to Ham Shopping ground to see the types of clothes they are complaining about. Because the clothes I saw are not made in Uganda.
Cbs: You want to be re-elected back to NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC) as the 2nd National Vice Chairperson. What is all about this position?
Kadaga: In NRM, CEC is the top committee of the Party. We have National conferences and District conferences . The work of CEC is to generate views to be considered by the district conferences and others by the National conference. So, this position deserves one with brains. With my presence at CEC, it is a sure deal that views about our party will be delivered. Am convinced that I have been giving CEC views about the condition of our people.
Cbs: How have women benefited in your being No. 3 in the ruling Party?
Kadaga: I am a big voice for women like the women empowerment fund, I asked how women are catered for and how we came up with that fund. I need to be in CEC for women to be fully represented. I am still around, give me more support. I have capacity and experience.
Cbs: How are the campaigns? Who are the voters?
Kadaga: Campaigns are on-going, all is well. About voting, the norm of converging at Namboole every four years will not work this time round. Elections will be at the district level. Voters include leaders at the mainstream committee, Women, Men, PWDs, Entrepreneurs, workers, NRM councilors sitting in district councils, NRM flag bearers and youth leagues.
Cbs: What are your chances of winning this contest?
Kadaga: My chances are very high.
Cbs: Where is your strength?
Kadaga: Everywhere in Uganda. There is no part of Uganda I have not visited.
Cbs: As one of top party leaders, where do you see NRM in the coming ten years?
Kadaga: We need to strengthen our structures, have activities throughout the year not only during election time. The Party must have life.
Cbs: What is your view about increasing numbers of MPs? Will there be time for every member to be on the floor?
Kadaga: They have to use the available time to deliver the views of the voters. Under the multi party dispensation, parties identify who will represent them on the floor, most especially those with expertise on that very issue. But you find that everyone wants to talk. So we give you strictly three minutes to deliver your message. About new constituencies, it’s you people asking for them. You also ask for new districts. What follows, you sit in your district council and pass resolutions and forward them to the Local government minister.
Cbs: We in Buganda have been asking ourselves, how we wronged you that you don’t give us new constituencies like in Wakiso.
Kadaga: Did you ask for any? Those who asked am sure were considered. Why didn’t the Wakiso district council show interest? Even in Kampala, many divisions didn’t not show interest. Then what did you expect me to do? In fact resolutions come from district councils to the local government minister, then to Cabinet and finally to the Speaker. I come last. Ask your leaders, why didn’t they follow that process? Who blocked them?
Cbs: Are you returning as Kamuli district Woman MP in 2021?
Cbs: Why stand in affirmative, why don’t you contest against men if you are that powerful?
Kadaga: Affirmative has no meaning. I represent 16 Sub counties. Each constituency has three Sub counties. Mine is 16. And you think winning it is that easy?
Cbs: But why don’t you leave Kamuli Woman MP seat and you stand for a bigger position?
Kadaga: I have already told you, a Constituency has three sub counties but a district like the one I represent has 16 sub counties. Of the two, which is bigger?
Cbs: We are aware, there are those who are interested in your seat
Kadaga: Let them come.
Cbs: Is it true, in NRM there is a clique fighting you and it is responsible for bankrolling opposition figures who want to stand against you in Kamuli?
Kadaga: It’s true. But I am not worried at all. Am strong like anyone sleeping on the floor. Because you can’t fall.
Cbs: Why are they fighting their own?
Kadaga: They fear me
Cbs: They are looking at how they can chase you?
Kadaga: (Laughter) They will never manage.
Cbs: From where do you get that confidence?
Kadaga: My people. That is why I have told you, let them come, I will defeat their mission.
Cbs: How do you see Uganda in general as the country heads to 2021 polls? Where do you see Uganda after the elections?
Kadaga: The country will be peaceful and we shall continue serving our people. We will put more emphasis on facilities and infrastructure. Put up more industries to create more jobs and also work on marine transport.
Cbs: What is Kamuli people’s source of income?
Kadaga: Farmers. They are generally in Agriculture planting maize, coffee, sugarcane etc. We have very few industries.
Cbs: Do they have markets?
Kadaga: Sudan, Kenya and our local markets.
Cbs: The education standard in Kamuli is low. What is that attributed to.
Kadaga: I don’t think it’s that low. We have put in more effort. From 2018, we identified schools which performed poorly in Busoga and we took back our teacher for refresher courses and am happy that in 2019, our schools performed better. We have to look at the distances from homes to schools because long distances affect the students and their teachers. But things are getting better.
Cbs: Busoga region has political camps. What is the cause?
Kadaga: I think it’s uniform, not only in Busoga.
Cbs: There are some leaders in Busoga who don’t like you. How did you wrong them?
Kadaga: I think you better ask them
Cbs: Rt. Hon. Speaker, there is an issue about the NSSF bill. Workers want their money.
Kadaga: The report is complete and already considered on the order paper. I am expecting the line minister on Tuesday to bring the second reading, they read out the report and we see what to do. I will make sure that it’s ready, I will immediately.
Cbs: Say something about Ugandans abroad who want to exercise their right and take part in elections and also those ones in prisons?
Kadaga: In February as Parliament we had moved on positively but the minister asked for more time to consult the cabinet. I think it is their right to vote for their leaders. The idea has not received favor but am sure, in the coming elections after this of 2021, they will be considered.
Cbs: Apart from the office of the Speaker, what have you done as an individual?
Kadaga: I started working even before I became an MP. I was the President of the International Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA). It’s me who started legal Aide service in 1988 and it’s now all over Uganda giving legal Aid, giving free legal services. For 23 years I have been on a campaign in Sebei and Karamoja against female genital mutilation. I have that campaign annually. I have worked with the President and put up schools where we keep girls during that season of FGM. Some are in Buko, Karamoja and Amudat. It’s a very great contribution. Even in Education, I have made sure that constructed schools have sanitation facilities and water. So to our people with disabilities. Every market constructed we make sure to have a day care center. On roads, there must be facilities like Mirembe at Nkozi. For quite a long time, I have been campaigning for water ambulances on Islands. The minister has assured me, they will be bought and launched in September. About communication, I have kept on asking the ministry of information to put transmitters for our people in Sebei and Karamoja to follow what’s going on in Uganda because they only get signals of neighboring Kenya yet they are part of us. Am happy, Hon. Minister Nabakooba has responded positively.
Cbs: And in Kamuli, your constituency?
Kadaga: Yes, I have bought mattresses for all hospitals both government and private in Kamuli district. This term, I have worked on boarding schools. We have constructed four dormitory buildings which will accommodate about 400 students. And I have put beds. We have built one at Bulopa SS, Luzinga SS and Namasagali. What we have not sorted out, are the Tertiary institutions. Look at Makerere University, since 1922, it has only Mary Stuart Hall for girls but for male students they are six. Meaning, 600 male students will enroll for University a year against only 100 female students because they have nowhere to reside. So I have been on a campaign for all tertiary institutions and Universities in Uganda to change their mindset and add facilities.
We approved a loan for technical institutions and we got one in Kamuli. I thought it was all fine. But when I went there, I was shocked to find out that girls were not catered for. I asked myself, how could the Education ministry approve this without catering for girls. In Makerere, girls walk at night to their hostels from the Library while male students are residents sleeping in halls like Nkuruma, University Hall, Lumumba, Mitchel and others, inside the campus. In Kamuli, I have worked on clean water. The clean water initiative has benefited even neighboring districts. Our main hospital got machines and other facilities that i lobbied from the USA through UNAA.
Cbs: When will Parliament pass a law protecting men against violence from women? You are a senior lawyer, we also need protection from you ladies?
Kadaga: The affected men should report any violence case infringed to them by women. Police will handle it. I think our societies also need counselling.
Cbs: Our teachers are suffering and we have cases of those setting themselves ablaze. Any hope to open up schools this soon?
Kadaga: That is not for Parliament. Yes I get petitions and forward them to either to The President, to the ministry of Education or to the Task force. We have been told about money to be given to private school teachers. I really don’t know which criteria they will follow.
Cbs: The parliamentary scorecard was released showing the best and worst performers in Parliament. Is there any way this report helps you in your leadership at Parliament?
Kadaga: I am not satisfied with that assessment. I think the better assessment would be about Parliament as a whole. Because we all have constitutional responsibilities. Like how many laws have we passed, did we approve the budget, did we supervise how funds were spent. I think they would look at our mandate. Because you may find active MPs in the plenary, others in committees, MPs have different capacities. Better if they had judged Parliament as a whole. This individual assessment has issues.
Cbs: We are going back to the polls in 2021. Advise our listeners on which kind of MP they should vote.
Kadaga: Let them send the one who can perfectly articulate issues, one who can deliver their views. Vote your voice and who can lobby for you.
Cbs: Did you drop the idea of extending Parliament term from five to seven years?
Kadaga: Constitutional court ruled against that. It has financial implications but when the government brings it back, we will debate over it.
Cbs: In 2021 polls, new political parties like Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), National Unity Platform (NUP) are likely to produce a good number of Members of Parliament. Will they be considered for IPOD and Leader of Opposition?
Kadaga: Definitely they will. Just like JEEMA’s Asuman Basalirwa is a member of IPOD.
Cbs: About these MPs defecting from political parties, how are you considering them like those who defected from FDC to NUP?
Kadaga: They did it within the law.
Cbs: What have you got to say about Stranded Ugandans abroad?
Kadaga: You need to thank Parliament. At the break of Covid-19, the Government closed all entry points. But later Parliament said no, our people must come back home on all costs. I am happy, repatriation is on-going.
Cbs: There is a question about Sugar cane prices and I know, most of your farmers in Kamuli are affected.
Kadaga: What I can say, I fought and won the Zoning war. Millers had lied to the government that Sugar canes are not enough, so they should not allow one moving from one place to the other. Zoning was kicked out of the Sugar cane bill. We agreed with the President that our ordinary people are given a Sugar factory. This is what we are working on. Thirdly, we agreed to have incubation centers within all Busoga districts starting with Luuka and Kamuli. The incubation centers are for value addition. Like making sugarcane juice, papers, charcoal, syrup and we get markets. Later, other districts will also get incubation centers.
What I have personally done, I have sourced Atiak Sugar factory investor to buy Sugarcane stems (seeds) from Kamuli and our people are earning. We now need to sort out the Permit issue because local people get issues while selling their Sugarcanes . They are required to have permits.
Cbs: When is the International Airport opening up?
Kadaga: Today we were debating about Tourism in Uganda and how we can again boost Tourism in the country after the Coronavirus outbreak. Deputy Prime minister Moses Ali will deliver to Cabinet a report about reopening Entebbe Airport and on Tuesday, he will report back to the Parliament. Am sure, any time, business will be back to normal. Hoping the science people won’t block it.
Makolo Kavuma: Rt. Hon. Speaker Ugandans in Diaspora through Musa Mujoba who is the President Uganda Whistle Blowers Association petitioned you to allow them elect their MPs. What have you got to say? Secondly, after serving in almost all party positions, why don’t you this time contest for NRM Chairman seat?
Kadaga: The diaspora issue is still tricky. Who will elect this MP and how will he or she be reporting? You are seated in Kampala but your voters are in diaspora? The law doesn’t even allow us to have MPs who don’t live in Uganda. About why Iam not contesting for NRM Chairman, it’s me deciding where to stand. It is not a public issue.
Sauti ya Taifa, Lwengo: Speaker, why did you defend the UGX 10B give away to MPs yet the President protested it?
Kadaga: Government budgeted for Wakiso and Kampala food. We told them that lockdown is affecting all Ugandans. We couldn’t believe that those affected are only in Kampala and Wakiso. Bodaboda riders in Kitgum, Busia, Kisoro, etc. We wanted everyone to be given food. Government refused. According to the Supplementary budget catering for KCCA, Ministry of Health, Security, putting up billboards and these wanted 11 billions and we asked, if people are in their homes, who will then read billboards in towns? We rejected the deal. The 10 billion that had been given to MPs was to enable legislators to buy food to the starving electorates. To me it was a wonderful move and you needed to thank us.
‘Major’ Umar from Bugoloobi: I come from NRM but am not happy over the way opposition meetings are blocked yet our leaders in the ruling Party are openly violating Covid -19 guidelines on meetings. On winning them in 2021, wont they say the game wasn’t free and fair?
Kadaga: It’s unfortunate but we have always cautioned those leaders violating the given guidelines.
Bakikakase: Teachers are in acute poverty. How are you bailing them out
Kadaga: I have told you, all the petitions I got I gave them to the ministry. My teachers in Kamuli recieved food through the task force.
Sulaiman Gita: When will places of worship open?
Kadaga: After Martyrs’ day, I met Archbishop Dr. Steven Kaziimba Mugalu and other religious leaders asking the government to lift the ban. They had an idea of organizing prayers for a few people. I went and talked to the president. But Science people advised him not to open up. The Science people are the problem. Even after lifting the ban on bodabodas, we had to first raise our voices.
Badru Kawooya: We are facing a problem of landlords and Bank loans. How is the Parliament helping?
Kadaga: The Finance minister told us how the Bank of Uganda wrote to all commercial banks ordering them not to charge interest for the period people were locked up in their homes. I asked the minister to present the instrument from the Bank of Uganda sent to banks. I have never looked at it. Hoping it wasn’t just oral communication. We will however put pressure to the minister to walk the talk. Secondly, they got money from European Union to bail out people in countries affected by Covid-19. We want to know how this stimulus package will reach the affected people.
Wamala, Nakwaya: Kiboga district is small but a new constituency has been formed.
Kadaga: True. Some sub counties will be represented by different MPs
Luba Kyoya: What is your take about over 500 MPs in the 11th Parliament?
Kadaga: It means, each MP will be given three minutes to debate
Richard Mpagi: Speaker you have served your country with one heart. You will leave a legacy. More light on opening places of worship.
Kadaga: I have told you, the problem is with science people on whose advice the president determines what to open and what not to open. I don’t even know, who they are. I will not stop fighting for what has not been opened.
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