By Henry Mulindwa
DESPITE SPENDING Shs30bn on hosting IPU meeting as its major contribution towards the golden jubilee, Cabinet has dust binned all the parliamentary activities in respect to this event. Parliament headed by Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, in April this year hosted the 126th Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) which it said was its major contribution towards the marking of 50 years of independence.
The same Parliament, throughout this week has been conducting activities among which included a charity walk to save the crested crane all in the name of contributing towards marking independence. However, in the official government programme, all the billions spent on these parliamentary activities purportedly for golden jubilee have been a waste of tax payers’ money. They are not recognised according to the official programme detailing preparations for the golden jubilee released by security minister Muruli Mukasa on Thursday.
The statement was first discussed thoroughly by cabinet on Wednesday and none of the ministers actually bothered mentioning about parliamentary activities in which billions of funds have been blown up. This action by cabinet has since left parliament in the cold as it seemed to be running its own government; a matter that would attract the wrath of the Auditor General in case the activities are not recognised by government. To prove that whatever parliament has been doing in the name of marking independence was a waste, the same executive has sidelined it on its usual activity of holding national prayer breakfast meeting.
The meeting which again has been tagged as one of its contributions towards independence marking is slated for October 8 at Hotel Africana but the Cabinet has also organised a parallel prayer hosted by Janet Museveni on the same day, same time but at Serena. “We are disappointed that the executive has sidelined the activities of parliament. We held the IPU which was the most successful meeting ever, we held a charity walk etc, but nothing was recognised. Even the prayer breakfast, we have organised one at Africana on the same day you have organised another hosted by first lady at Serena,” Kadaga fumed. MP Margret Netalesire added more water on Kadaga’s concerns saying ‘the people you are targeting (Janet prayer) are the same people we are targeting.
Going by the position of the First Lady and Speaker, whose prayers should we attend? Why did you organise parallel prayers yet Parliament has always been the one organising these prayers?” she stated to which Muruli Mukasa apologised calling it an ‘oversight’ Northern region youth MP Evelyn Anite didn’t buy the apology. Standing on a point of procedure, she wondered why cabinet disregarded everything parliament has been doing.
‘Madam speaker, imagine someone like me in this condition (she is pregnant) waking up every morning to come and attend all the activities parliament has been organising, but for them to be disregarded by government?’ at this juncture, more dissent grew and Muruli was told to shelve his statement and bring another statement where parliament activities will also be recognised!
Queen, Obama, Zuma Represented
Major super powers including Uganda’s former colonial master Britain will send their representatives following invitations by Kampala to attend its 50th anniversary ceremony slated for October 9. According to security minister Muruli Mukasa, 44 invitations were sent out to AU heads of states and governments, the queen of England, prime minister of Britain, US President Obama, Chinese President, Palestinian president among others.
However, among these 44, only nine heads of states (all from Africa) have confirmed attending the do in person. They include Yani Boni of Benin, Yahaya Jemmeh of Gambia, Joyce Banda of Malawi, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Salva Kiir of S. Sudan, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi , Joseph Kabila of DRC and Mwai Kibaki of Kenya.Muruli said the Queen has delegated prince Edward, China has delegated its vice Speaker of Parliament, South Africa has delegated a senior government officer, EU has delegated its ambassador to Uganda, US delegated its ambassador to Uganda, Nigeria has delegated its vice president, Sudan has delegated vice president, Ban Ki Moon has delegated a representative, Common wealth delegated its deputy SG among others. It is not clear why the major powers have snubbed this do and also Museveni’s close pals Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
The two are not on the list of those who will attend and the minister fell short of reasons why they are not going to attend. Even for the US president Obama’s decision not to attend has attracted queries from members.
During the debate on his statement on Thursday, the MPs expressed reservations about whether US will attend the do. “Obama is a politician. You invited him as a politician. Here, you are telling us he has delegated his ambassador to Kampala who is a civil servant. In US practice, a politician has never sent a civil servant to represent him or her” minister in waiting Richard Todwong stated.
It has now come to our attention that Muruli during the Wednesday cabinet sitting gave security threatening briefs to the ministers detailing how the opposition 4GC/A4C was in its final stages of launching fierce street protests ahead of the October celebrations. As such, this information might have leaked into the ears of invited Presidents who chose to make a U-turn. In fact, during his swearing in as 4th term President, the Opposition staged fierce demos along Entebbe Road where they attacked convoys of Presidents who turned up for the do at Kololo.
Among them was Nigerian President Jonathan Goodluck whose convoy was reportedly smashed. He has this time chosen to stay away sending only his vice. “Their intention is to start on October 1 to make Kampala ungovernable. They have lined up several ministries for attack ahead of the celebrations. This is the reason they have been demanding for the programme for celebrations” sources quoted Muruli as telling cabinet on Tuesday.
Mps Want Brutal Events Recorded
Meanwhile, as Parliament debated the statement; MPs demanded that all key brutal events that have characterised the country should be included in the commemoration book. Mukasa told members that this book together with that of pictures was to be produced depicting the country’s history from independence to date. “We want in this book to include all the brutal events the country has gone through. Some of these should include the Black Mamba attack on court, the Bugerere murders, LRA war, Lubiri attack and others. We shouldn’t fill the album with only good things yet there are memorable brutal acts we have seen happening,” MP Patrick Nsanja (Njenjeru South) said amid chanting.