- Published on Thursday, 20 September 2012 10:12
- Written by Nkwasibwe Geofrey
- Category: news
- Hits: 262
The budget crisis deepened in Parliament yesterday forcing the President to summon Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to an emergency meeting described by defiant legislators as a “waste of time”.
However, State House sources said it was “healthy” for the two leaders even as political watchers began to speak of a possible constitutional crisis.
Although details from the State House remained under wraps by press time, when Ms Kadaga returned to House in the afternoon, she announced that the budget would be considered today since the Budget Committee had not completed its consultations with government.
Ms Kadaga’s meeting with Mr Museveni caused concern in the House. MPs, who spoke to the press, vowed to resist her on the floor if she dared to manipulate Parliament into dropping its proposed additional Shs260 billion allocation to the health sector.
“The Speaker is not Parliament and if she tries to play politics in anyway, we shall resist her in public interest,” said Medard Sseggona, the shadow justice and constitutional affairs minister, also Busiro East MP, said.
“The Speaker is not a dictator, her job is to chair and the decisions are taken by members.
President Museveni needs to know that the days of Parliament being a rubber stamping institution ended long time ago. We cannot sit back when Ugandans are dying unnecessarily.”
After the President was heckled on Monday during an NRM caucus meeting at State House Entebbe for vowing not to sacrifice the defence budget for anything, he has now reportedly taken to calling quiet meetings of women MPs in what was seen as a “divide and rule” strategy, largely designed to outfox the rebellion in the House.
Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has had a torrid two weeks in which he has failed to sway Parliament. The President on Monday found himself in the same predicament. After weeks of closed caucuses and late-night negotiating sessions, the anticipated budget approval stalled this week amid mutual recriminations between the frontbench and MPs, forcing the Speaker to again adjourn final debate on the budget early in the week to allow further consultations.
Drama continues to haunt the consultation process in the Budget Committee after members accused their chairperson, Tim Lwanga of “betrayal”. Trouble started after Mr Lwanga joined Ms Kadaga and Prime Minister Mbabazi at the State House meeting. His action angered some committee members who later met and resolved to shoot down any contrary view from State House.
In the Budget Committee report before Parliament, MPs have recommended that the government cuts wasteful spending by 30 per cent to raise Shs39.2billion for the health sector. This decision was reached after they failed to raise all the required Shs260b in the budget cuts. They have also recommended that the balance be found through a supplementary.
But Ministry of Finance insists there is no money in the budget and that the government priorities should not to be disorganised.
Though some MPs have accused the President of trying to “arm-twist” the Speaker, Mr David Mafabi, the presidential private secretary on political affairs, said: “If there is any stalemate, it’s only sensible or logical to consult extensively.
It’s healthy for the President to consult the Speaker if there is a difficulty.” Mr Mafabi said the budget was a constitutional mandate and preserve of the President as head of the executive.
Source: Daily Monitor