By Spy Uganda
Kampala: Parliament today, 23 March 2021 commemorates 100 years of its existence as the legislative arm of the government.
Current Speaker Rebecca Kadaga says that the evolution of the legislature has witnessed tremendous growth in mandate, size, and impact.
“The Legislative Council (LEGCO) at inception had seven unelected Members; three were ex-officials, three were nominated and an Indian who was not at the sitting then. All members were Europeans and it was chaired by the then Governor, Sir Robert Croydon. The Africans who included the Kabaka and his Lukiiko were just in attendance and not part of the LEGCO,” she said.
Kadaga who was addressing the media on the milestone on Monday, 22 March 2021 added that Africans were not represented but progressively Ugandans have been able to take charge of their affairs.
“Currently, the 10th Parliament has 459 Members as compared to the seven Members of the LEGCO in 1921. We now have a widened mandate whose roles include representation, legislation, oversight and appropriation,” she said adding that, “Parliament has become more independent and is composed of various interest groups and is now fully in the hands of Ugandans.”
Kadaga said that Parliament shelved plans to have a weeklong celebration of the 100 years due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We would have loved to have a centenary celebration. However, because of the situation in the country, we cannot gather many people,” she added.
The Speaker said that the House will consider a commemorative motion on the centennial milestone and hold a photo exhibition depicting the legislature over the years.
Parliament Of Uganda’s History
The Ugandan parliament was established in 1962, soon after the country’s independence.
First Parliament (1962–1963)
This body was then known as the National Assembly. It had 92 members and was presided over, as speaker, by Sir John Bowes Griffin, a British lawyer and former Ugandan Chief Justice.
Second Parliament (1963–1971)
During this period, Prime Minister Milton Obote abrogated the constitution and declared himself President of Uganda in 1966. This parliament also witnessed the abolition of Uganda’s traditional kingdoms and the declaration of Uganda as a republic. The speaker during the Second Parliament was Narendra M. Patel, a Ugandan of Indian descent. This parliament ended when Idi Amin overthrew Milton Obote’s government in January 1971.
Third Parliament (1979–1980)
Following the overthrow of Idi Amin in April 1979, a new legislative body known as the Uganda Legislative Council was established. With an initial membership of 30, the membership was later increased to 120. This was the Third Parliament and was chaired by Professor Edward Rugumayo. This legislative body continued to function until the general elections of December 1980.
Fourth Parliament (1980–1985)
This period marked the return to power of Milton Obote and the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), following the disputed national elections of 1980. The speaker of the Fourth Parliament was Francis Butagira, a Harvard-trained lawyer. the Fourth Parliament ended when General Basilio Olara Okello overthrew Obote and the UPC government in 1985.
Fifth Parliament (1986–1996)
Known as the National Resistance Council (NRC), the Fifth Parliament was established following the end of the Ugandan 1981-1985 guerrilla war. Starting with 38 historical members of the National Resistance Movement and National Resistance Army, the legislative body was gradually expanded to include representatives from around the country. The speaker during the Fifth Parliament was Yoweri Museveni, who also concurrently served as the President of Uganda.
Sixth Parliament (1996–2001)
The Sixth Parliament was constituted during one-party rule (NRM). James Wapakhabulo served as speaker from 1996 until 1998. From 1998 until 2001, Francis Ayume, a member of Parliament from Koboko District, served as speaker.
Seventh Parliament (2001–2006)
The Seventh Parliament was presided over as Speaker by Edward Ssekandi. The most controversial legislation passed during this period was the amendment of the constitution to remove presidential term limits.
Eighth Parliament (2006–2011)
This was a continuation of the Seventh Parliament, with Edward Ssekandi as a speaker and Rebecca Kadaga as deputy speaker.
Ninth Parliament (2011–2016)
The Ninth Parliament was presided over by Rebecca Kadaga as a speaker, and Jacob Oulanyah as deputy speaker.
Tenth Parliament (2016–present)
In the Tenth Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga and Jacob Oulanyah remained in their posts as a speaker and deputy speaker respectively.
Notable Moment In Uganda’s Parliamentary History; 2017 Fight
On September 27, 2017, a fight ensued during a legislative session of the Ugandan parliament. The legislation in discussion at the time was to remove the presidential age limit of 75 from the Ugandan constitution.
Following accusations from the parliamentary speaker against certain lawmakers in the chamber of disorderly conduct, a full-fledged fight broke out in which chairs were thrown, microphone stands used as clubs and eventual removal of some members by plainclothes security officers.