If I were given a dime for every time the Ugandan Opposition stormed out of parliament I would be a millionaire.
Quick view on the many occasions that the opposition has left a plenary session in protest:
• Representatives of the opposition on the appointments committee walked out in protest after a disagreement emerged over on whether to vet Justice Steven Kavuma for the position of deputy Chief Justice.
• Opposition members of Parliament stormed out of house due to the appointment of General Aronda Nyakairima.
• Opposition MPs led by Wafula Oguttu walk out of Parliament during the Anti Terrorism Amendment Act debate.
• Opposition stormed out during the Public order management Act bill discussion and passing.
I can go on listing the times , it would be a whole essay, not to be misunderstood, all the times the opposition has walked out of an ongoing plenary session has been due to valid reasons.
They have angrily left their seats but have continued to pick the allowances for the session.
However, for all the times they stormed out, the NRM, with a leading majority has danced on their graves. They have freely debated and went ahead to pass the laws.
When the public order management Act was passed, the NRM mobilised it’s members in Parliament to come and vote in favour of the law. The law was designed to outlaw public gathering “with a political intention or discussion” without the permission of the Inspector General of police.
When General Aronda was appointed as Minister for Internal affairs, this was a contrail appointment as the opposition raised the issue of the breach of the constitution. They even vowed not to attend plenary sessions for 3 days in protest of Gen Nyakairima’s approval. Ken Lukyamuzi (Rubaga Division South, Conservative Party) said the opposition is going to the Constitutional Court to oppose the appointment. However Minister Aronda is still in cabinet with no legal suit against him.
The anti terrorism Act was passed last week. Opposition had argued in a minority report by MP Kivumbi that the law gives the IGP too much power. The leader of Opposition Wafula Oguttu said the law was targeting financing for the Opposition. This all fell on unyielding ground as Parliament went ahead to pass the law. The issue of quorum, not substantiated opposition angrily marched out of Parliament.
The list of the failed protests continues. All this made their protests a mere news event and doesn’t trickle down to what they want to see or change.
Opposition storming out of Parliament is now part and parcel, of parliamentary procedures, the NRM predicts it and simply goes ahead with what they want to do. The media celebrates because now they have news, the Ugandans they represent simply nod and wait for the harsh laws to be implemented or people to be appointed that are against the laws.
So once again, why does the Ugandan opposition continue to storm out of Parliament as a sign of protest? Instead storming out why don’t they remain in the house, make noise and disrupt the session so that the speaker cannot proceed.
They can also choose to focus on adding their numbers in Parliament so that the speaker has no choice but to listen to the opposition. The numbers are negligible which is why the House will continue comfortably without them.
Mobilisation of the opposition members is key, with the chronic absenteeism in Parliament, the opposition is as defenceless and a new born.
Otherwise the routine of storming out of parliament over and over is not only tiring but also misuse of taxpayer’s money considering that they still sign up for their allowances.
Photo Credit : The NewVision