The unstructured relationship between the NRM government and opposition UPC party on Tuesday stirred a legal deadlock and hot verbal exchange on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday.
Drama started when the Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, who is in charge of the front bench and the whole NRM side, named UPC’s Maxwell Akora as the vice chairperson of committee of Information and Communications Technology.
Nankabirwa’s move forced the FDC Secretary General, Nandala Mafabi who also represents Budadiri west constituency to rise on the floor and question the actions of the Government Chief Whip.
“Our rules clearly say that members shall be designated to the committees by their party whips. It’s not procedurally right for the Government Chief Whip to designate a UPC member,” Mafabi said.
Rules 175 (1) says; “There shall be Sectoral Committees of the House, whose Members shall be designated by Whips on basis of Party or Organization representation and interests of Independent Members in the House at the beginning of every session of Parliament”.
The UPC Whip, Santa Alum told the house that she was consulted by Nankabirwa and indeed she gave the green light for Akora to be designated. Members from the opposition mainly FDC however, disagreed with Alum’s submission saying she has no business with Nankbairwa and she is only supposed to deal with Opposition Chief Whip.
The matter expanded to the composition of Cabinet that has Betty Amongi, the wife of UPC party president, Jimmy Akena as the minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
The Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Nuwagab, Odonga Otto and Mafabi brought in article 83 (g) that says any MP who crosses the floor from the side of the party that brought him or her to Parliament to the other side of the house should vacate the seat.
The Attorney General William Byaruhanga and his Deputy Mwesigwa Rukutana differed from the interpretation of the opposition by citing 83 (h)(2) that says, “notwithstanding clause (1)(g) and (h) of this article, membership of a coalition government of which his or her original political party forms part shall not affect the status of any member of Parliament”.
The legal misunderstanding between the two sides forced the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah to give them time to sort out the impasse and return to the house.
Last week, the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga had given the Government Chief Whip the deadline of today to present the names and leadership of sectoral committees.
It should be remembered that UPC didn’t front a candidate in the 2016 presidential elections and instead the party gave its support to NRM.
ChimpReports broke the story of NRM and UPC alliance on 9th November 2015, the very day presidential campaign calendar started. Two days later, President Museveni confirmed the development in Lira district which is the stronghold of UPC.