The National Resistance Movement Party has deployed its key leaders to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee as it sets out to handle the constitutional amendment bill 2015, now before parliament.
The new deployments, announced by Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa, include Secretary General Justine Lumumba, Deputy Secretary General Richard Todwong, and Rose Namayanja Nsereko, the party Treasurer.
Also appointed to the committee is former Attorney General Peter Nyombi.
The quartet has not been serving on committees by virtue of holding ministerial positions.
However, their appointment to the NRM secretariat prompted President Yoweri Museveni to drop them as ministers, in line with amendments to the party constitution for persons holding top party positions to cease holding government positions.
The appointment of the members comes days after the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah asked the legal committee to prepare for the consideration of the Constitutional Amendment bill 2015 that is before Parliament.
He also directed the Prime Minister and Leader of Government business to prepare all necessary agencies of government to appear before the committee when required.
But Ndorwa East MP Wilfred Niwagaba says the appointments embed a sinister motive by the NRM to bully any opposition that may be raised on the constitutional amendments.
Niwagaba says the timing shortly after the bill was tabled raises suspicion.
Currently, the committee has 26 members, 15 of them who subscribe to the NRM party.
By adding four more members, Niwagaba says, the NRM will take advantage of its numerical strength to block opposition views.
“We shall wait for the committee sittings and make our case especially for the opposition and civil society demands for electoral reforms,” he adds.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga however deferred debate on the appointment, noting that the constitution of the committee, which should have 30 members, should be verified.
The legal committee of Parliament is about to scrutinize the constitutional amendment bill, 2015 which among other amendments seeks to change the name of the Electoral Commission to the Independent Electoral Commission and to prescribe a procedure for the removal of members of the Independent Electoral Commission, similar to the procedure for the removal of judicial officers.
The bill also seeks to increase the retirement age for Justices and Judges and to raise the number of signatures required by independent candidate to contest in Parliamentary elections to 1,000 signatures.
In other changes, Nankabirwa has also designated Justine Kasule Lumumba to serve on Parliament’s standing committee on Local Government accounts and Rose Namayanja and Richard Todwong on the Government Assurance committee.
She has also designated Medard Bitekyerezo, the Mbarara Municipality MP as Chairperson of the Health Committee replacing Kaberamaido MP Kenneth Omona who was recently appointed NRM Deputy Treasurer.
Dr. Patrick Mutono, the Butebo County MP is also designated as the Vice Chairperson of the Standing committee on HIV/AIDs replacing Bitekyerezo.
The Kiryandongo Woman MP has also been designated as the Vice Chairperson of the sectoral committee on Presidential Affairs replacing the Eastern Youth MP Peter Ogwang who is currently the Vice Chairman of the NRM Parliamentary Caucus.