Rugunda Easier to Work With – Speaker Kadaga

The replacement of Amama Mbabazi with Ruhakana Rugunda as prime minister improved the relations between Parliament and the executive, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has said.

Addressing a news conference on Parliament’s 4th session today, Kadaga said that Rugunda, also leader of government business in Parliament, had taken some steps to placate the tension between the two arms of government.

“Yes, there is harmony [between Parliament and executive now],” said the Kamuli Woman MP, in response to a question about whether the two organs were mending fences to improve the execution of their respective duties.

To illustrate her point, Kadaga referred to the time when cabinet members were summoned to a retreat shortly after Parliament had returned from recess. She said the prime minister made some concessions after she complained.

“When I complained that they [had] interfered with the work of the House, the Prime Minister Rugunda directed that each ministry should send somebody [in Parliament]. Although the senior ministers were in the retreat, we also continued with our work,” she said.

“So, for me, that is a sign of an improvement of methods of work so that the cabinet does not fail Parliament’s work by absenting themselves. There has been that agreement now and it’s working well.”

Flanked by her deputy Jacob Oulanyah, commissioners Reagan Okumu and William Nokrach, and committee chairpersons, Kadaga said Parliament had passed eleven bills during the last 12 months compared to 16 in 2013. This could imply that the thaw in the relations between Parliament and the executive came a little too late to enable the two institutions do more work. President Museveni sacked Mbabazi in September.

Mbabazi-Kadaga feud

During Mbabazi’s two-and-half-year tenure, the relationship between the PM and the speaker grew so tense that it required the intervention of President Museveni in January 2012. Even Museveni, however, failed to settle their feud.

Tensions flared up in August 2012 when Mbabazi used a cabinet meeting to question Kadaga’s political loyalty to government after accusing her of “secretly” meeting with opposition to strike the stringent Public Order Management Bill off the order paper.

Later, while presiding over the House, an angry Kadaga attacked Mbabazi, asking why the Kinkiizi West MP had made it a habit to direct attacks at the institution of Parliament and its leadership. Alluding inferences that she favoured the opposition, Kadaga said she had sworn to be a speaker for “everybody”.

Prime Minister Rugunda told members of the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association [UPPA] last week that he was taking decisive action to improve relations between the executive and the legislature.

“We are working to see that these [misunderstandings] and other loose issues are ironed out such that business in Parliament moves on smoothly,” he said.

During her press conference, Kadaga said Parliament had also faced the problem of growing MPs’ absenteeism. She vowed to address the problem through the use of the newly-acquired electronic “biometric” registration system to keep tabs on legislators’ attendance of Parliamentary activities.

Source : The Observer

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