Kampala- A decision by the Government Chief Whip, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa to designate a member of the Opposition Uganda Peoples Congress to become the vice chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has annoyed numerous opposition legislators.
The committee is chaired by a member of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). Opposition MPs say Mr Maxwell Akora (Maruzi county) is a member of UPC, a member of the ‘Shadow government’.
However, the UPC Chief Whip in Parliament, Ms Santa Alum did not object to the NRM’s designation of Mr Akora to the ICT Committee. Ms Alum said Mr Akora had been asked whether he is interested in serving on the committee and responded in the affirmative.
Mr Akora, who was in the House on Tuesday, did not participate in the debate.
At some point, he left the Chamber but returned after 10 minutes.
The Leader of the Opposition, Ms Winnie Kiiza, said it is unacceptable for the NRM to pick an opposition MP to become a vice chairperson of an NRM committee.
“The NRM designating some of members is not correct,” Ms Kiiza said. “It is not in the spirit of developing democracy. It is not in the spirit of enabling [party] whips to do their work.”
She said if any member of UPC is fine with being designated by the NRM, that member should cross the floor [join the ruling NRM party].
Ms Kiiza wondered whether the ruling NRM has a shortage MPs to nominate for the position.
“For us in the Opposition it is not that we don’t have where to put Maxwell. The Whip of the NRM can designate members of the NRM, NRM is not lacking members,” Ms Kiiza said.
Opposition MPs Roland Kaginda Mugume, Mr Odonga Otto, Mr William Nzoghu and Mr Nandala Mafabi said since the Opposition cannot pick an NRM official to chair a House accountability committee, the NRM is not expected to select opposition MPs to be vice chairpersons of its committee.
Ms Ruth Nankabirwa said NRM has members who can serve as vice chairperson of its committees.
“I beg that this House does not misunderstand me by mentioning that I did not have any problem with the vice chair continuing,” Ms Nankabirwa said. Her decision to designate Mr Akora was in the spirit of working together [with a section of opposition figures].
The Deputy Speaker, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, deferred the designation of the vice chairperson of the ICT committee to Wednesday afternoon.