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Taking stock of MPs who inherited big shoes

During last year’s parliamentary elections, there were shockwaves when over ten ministers and several influential lawmakers were trounced by minnows.

With less than two months before it celebrates a year, Sulaiman Kakaire puts the performance of some of these new lawmakers in the vibrant Ninth Parliament on a weighing scale.

Wilberforce Yaguma (NRM, Kashaari): The House has benefitted from his contribution since he put former state minister for Urban Planning,  Urban Tibamanya to the sword during the 2011 parliamentary elections. Notably, Yaguma has managed to be consistent both in the committee (Public Accounts Committee, Social Services Committee) and plenary sessions.

Rhona Ninsiima (Independent, Kabale Woman): Her voice has since melted away ever since she put up flak against the approval of Amama Mbabazi as Prime Minister. Apparently, many thought that Ninsiima would be one of the new firebrands from the Kigezi sub-region after she trounced former Agriculture minister Hope Mwesigye, to win the seat but so far she has not lived up to the expectation.

Cerinah Nebanda (NRM, Butaleja): Though she is perhaps the youngest lawmaker, Nebanda has the courage and spirit to challenge her own party on controversial subjects. She is also a good debater who will not shy away from exposing the bones in her party’s closet. However, she needs to remain steadfast and mature so as to measure up to her predecessor, Dorothy Huhya the former minister without portfolio, who is currently the NRM deputy secretary general.    

Rev Jacinto Ogwal (UPC, Otuke):
There is still a wide gulf if he were to be compared to his predecessor former Lands minister Omara Atubo. Atubo was not only an articulate lawyer, in his days as a backbencher he was revered when he took to the Dispatch box. However Ogwal, the man who used to don the dog-collar often counsels his colleagues on matters of spirituality.

Martin Muzaale Mugabi (NRM, Buzaaya): He is one of the new lawmakers, with effervescence. He was one of the architects of a plot to censure ministers Khiddu Makubuya and Syda Bbumba over the Basajjabalaba compensation scandal. Given time, Muzaale has shown that he can fit in the shoes of Isaac Musumba, the former minister for Regional Cooperation who was a rabble-rouser during his days as a backbencher.

John Ssimbwa (NRM, Makindye East): Compared to his predecessor Michael Mabikke, Ssimbwa has not proven to the electorate why he replaced the firebrand Social Democratic Party (SDP) president who lost the mayoral race to Erias Lukwago. He is usually quiet.

Mathias Mpuuga (Indep, Masaka municipality):
The de-facto leader of Activists for Change (A4C), Mpuuga has been an outstanding member on the committee of Presidential Affairs. He also sits on the Parliamentary Appointments Committee. He often grills those with a questionable moral background why they should be appointed. He is at par with John Baptist Kawanga, one of the cerebral legal minds who represented Masaka municipality since 1980, (save for the CA and 6th Parliament) until he was defeated in 2011.  

Patrick Nsanja (NRM, Ntenjeru South): He is yet to fit in the shoes of his predecessor, Tom Kazibwe. Mostly identified as a lead counsel of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), those who had been accused of stealing public funds felt as though they were going through a furnace when they were facing Kazibwe. However Nsanja remains obscure and there is barely anything to write about him.

Krispus Ayena (UPC, Oyam North):
He is a lawyer who made a name when he was involved in the protracted government-LRA peace talks, which later collapsed. There is no doubt that he is a good debator  but his predecessor Ben Wacha, the Opposition choice for Speakership on several occasions and one of the most revered voices ever in Parliament, still takes the accolades.

George Ekuma (NRM, Bukedea): He is a known sycophant who at all times will toe the position of the NRM caucus. Although he is an accountant like his predecessor, FDC politician Oduman Okello who was a leading rod in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Ekuma has barely lived up to the reputation of his predecessor the former shadow Finance minister.

Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda (FDC, Kyadondo East): He has been consistent on exposing government excesses but sometimes allows emotions to take control of him. However outside Parliament, he represents the face of underdogs and unlike his colleagues who shy away from the toxic fumes of tear gas and flying bullets, Ssemujju will always defend his subjects even if it means risking his life. His constituents will not miss his predecessor Sam Kalega Njuba.

Tophace Kaahwa (NRM, Hoima Woman):
It’s almost a year when Kaahwa last contributed on the floor of Parliament. For someone who replaced the vibrant Beatrice Byenkya, it will take a miracle for Kaahwa to emulate the debating skills of her predecessor. Byenkya, now presidential advisor and Col Fred Bogere who was an army MP were the only ruling party lawmakers that abstained during the vote to lift presidential term limits.

Martin Drito (NRM, Madi-Okollo):
He is an introvert and a successful businessman. He often makes quite significant contributions in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). However, his Achilles heel is he rarely attends the plenary session. His predecessor, John Arimadri, a sober and consistent debater in the Seventh and Eighth Parliaments, was by far, a better lawmaker.

Okello Oryem (NRM, Chwa):
Oryem, comes from a household name in politics. Oryem who is a state minister for International Cooperation is son to former President Tito Okello. A former barrister in the UK, he always shines when he has an opportunity to articulate government policy on the floor. He has also developed a niche in diplomacy and his down to earth approach has won him admiration. However he rarely attends Parliament perhaps due to his busy schedule as minister. However his predecessor, Livingstone Okello Okello, still has a slight edge. Okello Okello peppered serious debates with jocular remarks and was one of the most consistent debaters in the Sixth  and Eighth Parliament.

Harriet Ntabazi (NRM, Bundibugyo Woman): She rarely engages in any serious discourse apart from heckling. Her scorecard is dismal and it would be a prank to compare Ntabazi to her predecessor, Rosemary Alisemera, the former chairperson of the Uganda Women’s Parliamentary Association (UWOPA). Alisemera not only stood out as an advocate of women’s rights and parity but often brought to the floor development concerns of her disadvantaged constituents.

Amos Okot (NRM, Agago): Barely known, Okot defeated one of the most articulate debaters in the Eighth Parliament the Leader of Opposition Prof Ogenga Latigo. Unlike his predecessor, Okot could be mistaken for a stranger in the House because he rarely contributes on the floor.

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