Kampala, Uganda –There was uncertainty and confusion among some staff at parliament as the office of the former speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga was being cleared of belongings to pave way for her successor. On Tuesday, a team of parliamentary staff started removing Kadaga’s belongings to create space for Jacob Oulanyah, the new speaker of parliament.
Oulanyah defeated his former boss after polling 310 votes against Kadaga’s 197 votes during the elections held on Monday at Kololo ceremonial grounds under the supervision of the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo. The defeat of the Kamuli woman MP who has served in the office of speaker for 20 years as deputy and full speaker respectively has triggered panic among some parliamentary staff.
While at the main gate and other checkpoints, the security said “change happens,” and that they will work with the leader of the day, there was a sad mood at the sixth floor where Kadaga’s office was located. On Tuesday, several boxes meant for packing the personal property belonging to the former speaker occupied most parts of the rooms on the North wing of the sixth floor.
Our reporter also saw several boxes containing awards, souvenirs and trolley loads of papers being moved from the Parliament fly-over and offloaded in the basement of Parliament. The exercise of packing the items started from morning and went on till afternoon. Two security guards manning the place watched on as some workers were packing files, cups, clothing and other personal property.
The office of the Speaker employs both permanent and contract staff. Although the permanent staff like the media personnel, researchers and head of office of the speaker, among others, are emotionally affected by the changes, the most affected are the staff on contract who are the majority. Some of these were appointed directly by Kadaga. There are over 20 staff in the office of the speaker both on contract and permanent basis.
Some of the staff spoken to on record and off record said they don’t know what to do next. Stephen Bingi, a photographer attached to the speaker’s office says that the mood is low in the entire building especially for the people who have been working in the speaker’s office.
He says that the Speaker has been helpful to everyone, but also says that 20 years in Parliament as deputy speaker and speaker meant that she touched a lot of people. According to Bingi, as it stands now, he doesn’t know where to go as they pack things to vacate the office for the next speaker.
He says as a person he will miss Kadaga especially for her work with the opposition and the government among others. He says that they thought Kadaga would win a third term, but sadly this didn’t happen.
A female police officer who has been at parliament for the last five years and only decided to identify herself as Irene, says that they will miss Kadaga for policies that favor women and wellbeing of security personnel. She says one of their colleagues was once chased from Parliament when she became pregnant, but Kadaga ensured that she is reinstated.
“We are very used to her. She has done a lot especially for the staff at parliament and women,” she said.
Peter Busiku, the Assistant Director Office of the Speaker who is employed by Parliament declined to comment, saying that they were very busy.
“As you can see now we are packing and very busy, we cannot talk now, people are not in their right mind,” he said.
Geoffrey Ekanya, the newly sworn in Tororo County North MP said Kadaga touched lives of not only MPs but also the staff and that is why emotions are high.
Meanwhile, the mood in the corridors of Parliament was neither celebratory nor sorrowful. A senior officer of Parliament said that Kadaga was a bad administrator who didn’t respect systems and processes but took charge of almost everything. The source said that Kadaga promoted junior officers above the senior ones and in several cases favored others on top of others.
“I didn’t talk to her for five years, but when they announced yesterday, I was so emotionally drained but I sympathized with her. I served madam diligently, but things were done unprofessionally here. She took our jobs” the source said. By the time of filing this story, several items belonging to Kadaga and some of the staff were already packed in the basement and the room organized for the permanent staff to continue with work. URN