Aol, Nambooze want Kadaga to explain tossing Kasibante around

Moses Kasibante: "As the Rules indicate, the Speaker only facilitates my choice, I have never indicated that I want to belong to the Appointments Committee. I indicated to the Clerk that I wanted to remain on Cosase,"

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PARLIAMENT | The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Betty Aol Ocan, will seek explanations from Speaker Rebecca Kadaga on why Moses Kasibante has been removed from the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase).

The Lubaga North MP was expected to deputise Mubarak Munyagwa on Cosase but Kadaga on Tuesday ruled that Kasibante sits on the Appointments Committee.

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The Speaker’s decision has left the Opposition grappling with who would deputise Munyagwa on the committee and Aol has now moved to seek clarifications from Kadaga.

“We have our member who is on two committees, we have our Rules which says that Kasibante as an individual has a choice so it will be his choice to pick on one,,” Aol said as they addressed the media at Parliament on Wednesday.

Kadaga, in her ruling, said a member can only appear on one statutory and another sessional committee and not two of the same kind as was with Kasibante’s case. She made the decision to pick which committee Kasibante sits on.

But Aol on Wednesday said Rule 157(4) Independent allows members to apply to the Clerk to join committees of their choice and the Speaker will, accordingly, ensure that the members join the committee of their choice.

“We still don’t know, whatever the problem is, we will have to go to her and understand because Kasibante as a Member of Parliament has his rights. If there is something not known to us, she will tell us why she still insists on Appointment Committee. We still hope this isn’t so special, we wait to hear from her,” she said.

The LoP was backed by Mukono North MP Betty Nambooze, who said they want to know where the mix up came from.

Nambooze said that before the names were read out, the Opposition, NRM Chief Whips and Speaker had a meeting and knew about these names.

The new controversy follows and earlier near-impasse in December when the Opposition led by Aol took on Kadaga over the matter of Cosase leadership handover.

At the time,  Abdu Katuntu’s tenure was ending but Kadaga, upon Katuntu’s petition, granted extension of the tenure to enable the team complete its probe into how Bank of Uganda closed down seven commercial banks over the last 25 years.

The decision had seen the Opposition engage the Speaker demanding the rules are followed but Kadaga eventually stamped her feet and declared she was the Speaker and that “my words are final.” The Opposition backed down but now they are back in another confrontation with Kadaga.

“Parliament has had enough of these controversies and we are trying our best as the Opposition to make sure that these controversies come to an end,” said Nambooze.

“It isn’t that we don’t care about other people, it is that you people in the media talked about Kasibante more, there was a mix up and we are going to iron it out administratively. We don’t want to appear that the Speaker and Leader of the Opposition are fighting.”

She said they were of strong faith in the law to prevail so that those appointed in committee positions are allowed to serve.

Kasibante said it was “a big surprise” for somebody to even allege that he ever applied to be a member of the Appointments Committee.

“It was a surprise to me yesterday when the Dean of the Independents put my name on his list. First of all, I actually don’t subscribe to the Independents forum. Our practice here , an independent MP chooses which side to ally with. From day one, I chose to apply with the Opposition,” he said.

Kasibante said he was independent of the Independent MPs’ forum, claiming that the majority of the members are NRM-leaning legislators.

“I chose to align with the Opposition. I have never indicated anywhere and, as the Rules indicate, the Speaker only facilitates my choice, I have never indicated that I want to belong to the Appointments Committee. I indicated to the Clerk that I wanted to remain on Cosase,” he said.

The Lubaga North MP said he has strong reservations about the Appointments Committee but did not explain what the reservations are about.

“Actually, in my lifetime at Parliament, it is one Committee that I don’t intend to have as my choice,” he added.

Meanwhile, Aol downplayed suggestion that the latest stand amounts to a challenge to the Speaker, whose recent decisions leave no doubt that she will not tolerate being challenged.

“If I was challenging, I wouldn’t need to talk to her, I want to talk to her because I am not challenging. Ours is about understanding from her, there could be an issue to put forward, it isn’t about challenging,” she said.

The Gulu Woman MP said Kasibante has been serving on Cosase and it was upon this background that the Opposition nominated him to deputise Munyagwa. She said his experience was a ” strong asset” to the chairperson [Munyagwa].

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