By Dedan Kimathi
Mukono Municipality legislator Betty Nambooze has called for Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa’s security detail to be downsized.
She made the call during plenary on Thursday, May 25, 2023. Nambooze’s plea stems from an incident on Thursday afternoon where she was allegedly shoved aside as Tayebwa made his way into the Parliament building.
This, she says, was unprecedented, especially coming on the day when she was first elected to Uganda’s legislature.
“Today is a very big day for me. This is the day I first won an election to join this Parliament, but Mr Speaker, never in my life at Parliament have I ever seen this level of deployment of security people around us. This afternoon as you came in, I was standing and I was pushed by a security man dressed in black to give way just because Mr Speaker you were coming and the number of security guards worried me. I even thought that is my Speaker safe? What is happening that is making this place become a barracks? We are supposed to operate in a free atmosphere,” Nambooze said.
The Deputy Speaker, just like ministers, diplomats, judges, senior security officers and managers of government agencies, is entitled to protection from the Police’s Very Important Persons Protection Unit (VIPPU).
Tayebwa, however, interpreted this as blackmail since he said he did not recall seeing any mix-up between Nambooze and his bodyguard.
“I came holding hands with Hon. Mafabi (Nandala), Hon. Micheal Mawanda (Igara East) and Hon. Womakuyu Mudiimi (Bulambuli). When I was coming from my office, I found Hon. Nambooze standing with a certain gentleman, just the two of them alone, yeah; because I have my own witnesses.
So, are you trying to blackmail me that I have militarised the place, surrounded it with security? It is really bad. Since we resumed sessions yesterday, we have been at peace. It is really bad don’t mudsling my name here,” Tayebwa said.
Rising in defence, Nandala Mafabi (Budadiri West) said: “In fact, we met there in the middle of those bridges. I met you with Hon. Mudiimi and Mawanda and when you saw me, I said where are you taking Mawanda.
You said, now you are safe, come and join me. I want to confess, I never saw a Policeman at that time, I want us to be realistic. I am a Christian. So, we came, moved up, and left the Speaker going to dress. Maybe my eyes don’t see well and I would like to state that I never saw a policeman pushing anyone.”
Tayebwa condemned Nambooze’s utterances saying they impute a bad image.
“I don’t know what happened to a colleague from nowhere to come and start maligning me that my security has pushed her and yet I didn’t come anywhere near her. It is really bad and yet she’s the person we know who has been having injuries,” he said.
Nambooze is among a host of Opposition legislators that were gravely injured during the debate on the Age Limit Amendment Bill in 2017. Since then, she has oscillated between a wheelchair and crutches.