Kadaga calls for end of Walk to Work amidst heated parliamentary debate

The opposition should adopt other methods and means of demanding government action instead of disrupting economic activities through Walk to Work protests, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has advised. According to Kadaga, the Walk to Work protests have not reduced the high commodity prices, a reason those behind the campaign started it early this year.

Kadaga made her observation last evening in a heated parliamentary debate that lasted for over five hours. She told opposition MPs, led by the leader of the opposition Nathan Nandala Mafabi, to find other means to address the problems targeted by the campaign. Kadaga also advised government to own up to several mistakes that were committed by its agents during the campaign.

She said that the right to demonstrate is enshrined in the constitution of the Republic of Uganda but added that enjoyment of those rights should not be used to hurt innocent people’s businesses and economic life. The debate followed last week’s hard-hitting accusations by the opposition against a plot by government to hurt and kill Dr. Kiiza Besigye, the FDC leader. It all started after a group of goons invaded Besigye’s home in Kasangati in Wakiso District demanding payment for work they allegedly executed for the party in the 2006 polls.

During the debate, which was characterized by bitter exchanges and threats between NRM legislators and their opposition colleagues, Internal Affairs Minister Hillary Onek denied that government had plans to harm Besigye. Instead he accused the opposition of using political in-fighting to harm their leader and blame government for it.

Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi accused Besigye of using the Walk to Work to try and overthrow government, an accusation Nandala rejected. He said it was the responsibility of the government in power to protect anybody and demanded that the opposition provides government with evidence of the threats against their leaders.

Mbabazi said the NRM government has never engaged in extra-judicial killings of its enemies, as opposition MPs shouted back Mukura in Teso and Kasubi tombs as examples of nasty events where innocent lives were lost at the hands of government security agents. Nandala Mafabi told the house that it was not the Walk to Work participants who were responsible for disrupting economic activities in the country, but the failure by the police and other security outfits to regulate opposition demonstrations.

He cited a number of instances when he and other colleagues walked freely and reached their offices, without police disruption. He said it was police that always caused the disruptions and eventually killings by trying to stop Besigye from freely walking.

-Uganda Radio Network