Parliament: Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa yesterday condemned Internal Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafiire’s selfish and hypocritical attacks on the institution of parliament.
In a no nonsense response to the bush-war hero who on Monday this week questioned the size of parliament and it’s relevance, Mr Tayebwa reminded Otafiire that he is one of the beneficiaries of the small constituencies created by parliament.
The Deputy Speaker was a chief guest at the 2022 Uganda National Journalism Awards organized by African Centre for Media Excellence (Acme) on Tuesday evening.
“I saw some senior leaders in parliament questioning the size of parliament yet they are the recent beneficiaries of these small constituencies,” Mr Tayebwa. said.
He asked journalists to question the hypocrisy and selfishness of Gen Otafiire and other senior leaders.
The deputy speaker blasted Gen Otafiire and other hypocritical senior NRM leaders questioning the young people in influential leadership positions on issues of ideology.
Without mincing words, Mr Tayebwa reminded the likes of Gen Otafiire that the biggest crisis in Uganda is not a crisis of ideology of political parties, it’s a question of unemployment, poverty, rising cost of food and cost of living and these challenges cannot be solved by going to Kyankwanzi for training.”
“The questions of 1986 when some people came from the bush might be the questions of today but the answers are totally different,” the Deputy Speaker said.
”The answers to the current problems are not those ones where you have to remind us that you came from the bush,you have the guns, not at all… the narrative is totally different.”
The Deputy Speaker recalled his conversation with some of the bush-war leaders who were dragging him in their 1986 disagreements.
“I told them if you had your disagreements, i was born on November 10th 1980, i wasn’t part of your disagreements… as young people we have our disagreements today.”
He added: “If am a speaker of parliament, i must address the challenges of my generation.. . people like Otafiire can’t keep taking us back to 1986 solutions. You can’t say because revolutionaries are no longer at the forefront, therefore parliament is dead. Who told you?
Tayebwa asked journalists to challenge hypocritical senior leaders whose preoccupation is to drag the young people occupying key leadership positions into the mud.
While Otafiire criticized parliament leadership for limiting the time for members contributions on the floor to only three minutes, Tayebwa reminded him that in the British Parliament, lawmakers speak for one minute.
“In Uganda parliament, some senior leaders want 15 minutes because they are repeating themselves…. people are just somersaulting.”
To those doubting the capacity of 11th parliament to deliver to the expectations of Ugandans, the deputy speaker talked of a fortified parliament with PhD holders, masters and other qualifications.
“I have a parliament with people holding PhDs and Masters and you say they cannot manage Uganda when you had people who had not gone to school taking over power and managing the country! ” Tayebwa added.
In his humble advice to senior leaders like Otafiire, Mr Tayebwa reiterated that : ”If you are a revolutionary and you fought in the war that brought the government into power, if you’re a senior leader, we salute you and even bow for you but once we are given a chance to serve Ugandans, don’t try to bring us down, just support us, advise us, we might be young, excited and make mistakes but advice us without shouting.”
He added: ”But to go and declare us dead because you’re not the one in the position, shouting how British economy is 200 times stronger than Uganda’s economy, is something we cannot allow to pass without any response.”
”Influence us, don’t stop us because you can’t stop us. You’re just wasting time.. we have come from far… we cannot reach here and then you start making irrelevant criticism because you want to show people that you are a senior leader… no way.”
‘I want people to respect parliament… we can’t do your work and you don’t want to respect the institution of parliament. We don’t have any single bill of government pending… we processed all government bills and met all statutory obligations of government.”
Mr Tayebwa explained that managing 529 heads isn’t like a parliament with 200 MPs, adding that ‘the members work day and night to processing reports, petitions, bills etc and then you hear senior leaders
like Otafiire boasting in the media how they stopped coming to parliament because they don’t give them enough time to speak…This is unfortunate and this narrative has to change.”
The deputy speaker revealed that the government is in process of formulating a legal framework to regulate ICT sector. He promised to give all stakeholders opportunity to give their views before the bills are passed into laws. ”You can’t stop laws but you can influence these laws… we need more engagement… you can make a contribution but let’s be ethical, professional and responsible…be fair and accurate.”
The deputy speaker cautioned the media against biased reporting and asked journalists to shape the national narrative in their reporting. He called for reasonable media restrictions for noble aims such as national security, public order or even public morals. Mr. Tayebwa cited the 1994 genocide in Rwanda where media was used to propagate a genocide that took lives of millions.