Rea­sons why op­po­si­tion storm­ing out of Par­lia­ment is a joke

By: Jacky Kemigisa

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