A look at the for­mer Speak­ers of Par­lia­ment of Uganda from 1962

By: Isaac Okello

With the at­tain­ment of in­de­pen­dence on the 9th day of Oc­to­ber 1962, Uganda set her­self to go for­ward with self-gov­er­nance and em­barked on sev­eral na­tion build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. To achieve this, the in­de­pen­dence gov­ern­ment (which had been voted in in 1962 when the Gen­eral Elec­tions were held, and headed by the Uganda Peo­ple Con­gress/​KY Al­liance un­der the lead­er­ship Apollo Mil­ton Obote, with the De­mo­c­ra­tic Party (DP) led by Ben Ki­wanuka in op­po­si­tion), was struc­tured into three arms, i.e. the Ex­ec­u­tive, the Leg­is­la­ture, and the Ju­di­ciary. These were well spelt out in the 1962 In­de­pen­dence Con­sti­tu­tion of Uganda.

The Leg­is­la­ture/​Par­lia­ment is headed by a Speaker elected from among the mem­bers, and from 1962 when Uganda got her in­de­pen­dence, up-to-date, there have been nine Par­lia­ments, and each of these have seen dif­fer­ent Speak­ers who are the head of the Par­lia­ment.. Here is a look at the dif­fer­ent speak­ers of Par­lia­ment from then.

Sir John Bowes Grif­fin (1962 -1963)

Sir John Bowes Grif­fin was Ugan­da’s first Speaker of Par­lia­ment af­ter in­de­pen­dence. Be­fore be­com­ing Speaker, Sir Grif­fin had served as Chief Jus­tice of Uganda from 1952-1958. Bowes Grif­fin was born on 19 April 1903 to Sir Charles James Grif­fin, and held sev­eral po­si­tions in dif­fer­ent colonies in­clud­ing be­ing the At­tor­ney Gen­eral in the Ba­hamas in the mid-1930s and act­ing as Gov­er­nor and Chief Jus­tice for var­i­ous pe­ri­ods.

He handed over the Speaker-ship of the first Par­lia­ment to Naren­dra M. Pa­tel in May 1963.

Naren­dra M. Pa­tel (1963- Jan­u­ary 1971)

He was the first non-Eu­ro­pean Speaker of Par­lia­ment of Uganda. He took over the man­tle from Sir Grif­fin in May 1963 to 1971 when Pres­i­dent Idi Amin took over through a coup de tat. Mr Pa­tel was the Speaker dur­ing the time when Pres­i­dent Mil­ton Obote over­threw the In­de­pen­dence Con­sti­tu­tion and sub­sti­tuted it with the pi­geon–hole Con­sti­tu­tion af­ter falling out with the Buganda King­dom.

Naren­dra Patel’s speak­er­ship ended in 1971 when Amin took over power, and re­tained all law mak­ing au­thor­ity in the coun­try, ren­der­ing the Par­lia­ment un­nec­es­sary.

Prof. Ed­ward Rugu­mayo (1979-80)

Prof Ed­ward was not an ac­tive politi­cian and has never cam­paigned for pol­i­tics. He was a lec­turer at Mak­erere Uni­ver­sity be­fore he was ap­pointed min­is­ter in Idi Am­in’s gov­ern­ment be­tween 1971/​73. He then ran into ex­ile where he spent six years at the Uni­ver­sity of Zam­bia.

Prof Ed­ward, dur­ing the 1979 Moshi Con­fer­ence in Tan­za­nia was nom­i­nated to chair the Na­tional Con­sul­ta­tive Coun­cil (NCC) which was the in­terim Par­lia­ment of Uganda Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Front, com­posed of 32 Mem­bers and later ex­panded to 125. Fol­low­ing the over­throw of Idi Amin, NCC con­tin­ued to be the supreme leg­isla­tive body un­til the gen­eral elec­tions of 1980.

Prof Rugu­may­o’s chair­man­ship of the coun­cil ended in 1980, af­ter which he served as min­is­ter in Pres­i­dent Mu­sev­eni’s gov­ern­ment in dif­fer­ent port­fo­lios in­clud­ing; Trade, Tourism, In­dus­try and In­ter­nal af­fairs. He is cur­rently the chan­cel­lor of the Uni­ver­sity of the Moun­tains of the Moon in Fort Por­tal, Uganda.

Fran­cis K. Bu­ta­gira (1980-1985)

Mr Bu­ta­gira, born on 22nd No­vem­ber 1942 in Mbarara Dis­trict, and a Har­vard Uni­ver­sity grad­u­ate of Mas­ters of Laws, had been a mem­ber of the Na­tional Con­sul­ta­tive Coun­cil for two years from 1979 and a High Court judge be­tween 1974 and 1979.

He served as the Speaker of the 4th Par­lia­ment tak­ing over from Prof Rugu­mayo in 1980 un­til the mil­i­tary coup by Gen. Bazil­lio Okello over­threw the UPC regime on 27 July 1985. He lost the po­si­tion of Speaker but he con­tin­ued to be a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment from 1989 to 1996.

He was later made an am­bas­sadors to Ger­many, a po­si­tion he held un­til re­cently when he was re­lieved of his du­ties. He be­came the Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the United Na­tions in July 2003.

Yow­eri Kaguta Mu­sev­eni (1986 to 1996)

H.E Pres­i­dent Mu­sev­eni served as the chair­man of the Na­tional Re­sis­tance Coun­cil (NRC), the 5th Par­lia­ment af­ter suc­cess­fully over­throw­ing the gov­ern­ment of Bazil­lio Okello. The NRC was not a na­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tive coun­cil and had 38 his­tor­i­cal mem­bers of the Na­tional Re­sis­tance Army. It was later ex­panded to in­clude rep­re­sen­ta­tives from around the coun­try.

In 1993, the NRC passed the Con­stituent As­sem­bly Statute that es­tab­lished and pro­vided for the elec­tion of the Con­stituent As­sem­bly Del­e­gates to work on the for­mu­la­tion of the new con­sti­tu­tion.

James Wa­pakhab­ulo (1996 to 1998)

Wa­pak­ab­ulo was born on 23rd March 1945, and was the first elected Speaker of Par­lia­ment af­ter the pro­mul­ga­tion of the 1995 Con­sti­tu­tion of the Re­pub­lic of Uganda. This was the 6th Par­lia­ment. He is re­mem­bered for hav­ing strongly op­posed the lift­ing of term lim­its in 2005 which led to his fall out with Pres­i­dent Mu­sev­eni. He, how­ever, was ap­pointed sec­ond deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs in 2001 three years later, a po­si­tion he held un­til his death in March 27, 2004.

Fran­cis Ayume (1998- 2001)

Fran­cis Ayume, a lawyer, was born on Au­gust 18, 1940 and served as the Koboko Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment from 1996 un­til his death in a road ac­ci­dent in 2004. He was Speaker in the 6th Par­lia­ment hav­ing taken over the speak­er­ship from Rt. Hon Wa­pakhab­ulo.

Af­ter his speaker-ship reign, Fran­cis Ayume was ap­pointed At­tor­ney Gen­eral in 2001.

Ed­ward Ki­wanuka Ssekandi (2001 to 2011)

Born on Jan­u­ary 19, 1943, Mr Ssekandi be­came Speaker in 2001 and steered both the 7th and 8th Par­lia­ments. He joined ac­tive par­lia­men­tary pol­i­tics when he was ap­pointed as a mem­ber to the Con­stituent As­sem­bly in 1993 whose work re­sulted into the 1995 Con­sti­tu­tion of the re­pub­lic of Uganda. He was later elected MP for Bukoto County Cen­tral, Masaka, in 1996, a con­stituency he has rep­re­sents to date. He first served as Deputy Speaker un­der the late James Wa­pakhab­ulo from 1996 to 2001.

He now serves as the Vice Pres­i­dent of the Re­pub­lic of Uganda, a po­si­tion he has oc­cu­pied since 2011.

Re­becca Al­it­wala Kadaga- (2011- date)

Rt. Hon Kadaga is the first Woman Speaker of the Re­pub­lic of Uganda, and Woman Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for the Ka­muli Dis­trict. She was Deputy Speaker from 2001, to 2011.

Ms Kadaga holds Bach­e­lors of Laws, a Diploma in Wom­en’s Law and a Mas­ter of Arts De­gree in Wom­en’s Law. She served as the chair­per­son of the Uni­ver­sity Coun­cil for Mbarara Uni­ver­sity, be­tween 1993 and 1996.

In 1996, Hon Kadaga served as Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of the East African Women Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans As­so­ci­a­tion and in 1996 to 1998, she was the Min­is­ter of State for Re­gional Co­op­er­a­tion (Africa and the Mid­dle East). She then served as Min­is­ter of State for Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Avi­a­tion, from 1998 un­til 1999. Be­tween 1999 and 2000 she was the Min­is­ter for Par­lia­men­tary Af­fairs.

These have been the dis­tin­guished lady and gen­tle­men who served Uganda at the ca­pac­ity of Speaker of Par­lia­ment from 1962 when Uganda ob­tained her in­de­pen­dence from the colo­nial­ists. As for who will be the next Speaker of Par­lia­ment of Uganda, we await the re­sults of the next gen­eral elec­tion to be held in 2016.