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.