Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga is the first female Speaker of Parliament. The lawyer and politician is also the Kamuli district Woman MP. Her popularity has risen by leaps and bounds into speculation that she could be aiming at the presidency. Moses Mulondo asked her about it
A recent survey established that you, the First Lady and Prof. Gilbert Bukenya are the most preferred leaders to succeed President Yoweri Museveni. What do you say about it?
I did not see the survey. I need to read it.
But what do you say about the succession debate within the NRM party?
I will talk about that when the right time comes
When will the right time be?
I am not in charge of the time table for the party.
ACFODE, in a public dialogue, resolved that the next president should be a woman. The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, said so too. In Kabale, Fr.Gaetano Batanyenda prayed for you to be the next president. What is your say?
Women are human beings. Aren't they?
Will you offer yourself?
I will not answer that question. Why are you dragging me into that debate now?
Is it true that after these requests, some intelligence people started following you?
I think it is true. I am aware that some people are following me.
Doesn't that worry you?
No, it doesn't, why should it? I don't do my work in secret. I do my work openly.
In just one year as Speaker, the nation has praised you for the tremendous work so far done. How long should a person be in a leadership position to bring about the desired change?
It depends on the nature and the specifications of the job.
How long should a person be president?
I have not been a president. So, I don't know.
If you became one, how long would you want to serve?
You want me to speculate. I think it depends on the specific set of problems a country has to address in a particular period.
Do you believe in changing leadership often?
It depends on which leadership you are talking about. If you follow athletics, in races like the relays, one person starts from where another has stopped.
There is a view that the vibrancy in parliament is because leadership changed. Do you think the same would happen if we changed presidents?
Parliament is a smaller body than the entire nation. I don't know whether we can compare the two. You also have to realise that each Parliament has its own priorities.
Civil society and religious leaders on Monday launched a campaign against theft of public funds, during which you were commended for spearheading the fight against corruption. How can this campaign succeed?
If there is sufficient awareness of the citizens about their rights and what they are entitled to from their public funds, they will begin to seriously demand for accountability in all areas, at all levels. Raising awareness will make a difference.
What do you think is the cause of this rampant corruption?
Impunity. I think thieves have reached a stage where they think nothing can be done to them.
What are the priorities of Parliament?
Our key priorities are to improve good governance practices, eradicate of corruption and ensure better service delivery for the electorate who vote for us with the hope of improving their lives.
How will you manage with the rampant absenteeism of MPs?
The parliamentary commission will come up with ways of ensuring that field visits and committee work do not clash with plenary.
But aren't there MPs who just choose to keep away from Parliament?
Very soon we shall take action against them. We have records of those who attend plenary and committees. We are analysing these reports and we shall take action against those who deliberately dodge Parliament work.
What are the Bills that must pass by the end of this year?
We have lined up the anti-money laundering Bill because the banking sector urgently needs it, the accounts Bill and geographical indications and the marriage and divorce Bill.
But religious leaders are opposed to it. They say it makes marriage risky and contains practices alien to Uganda.
I don't think they are opposed to the whole Bill. It can be redesigned to suit the local conditions.
When do you plan to retire from politics?
When I agree with my voters.
But as a principled leader, shouldn't you have your own agenda?
I set my agenda with voters.
Any message for the nation?
My message is that Parliament will remain focused on the fight against corruption and the fulfilment of the pledge for better services.