Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga is a Ugandan lawyer and politician who hasbeen speaker of the Parliament Of Uganda since 19 May 2011. She is the first woman to be elected Speaker in the history of the Parliament of Uganda.
She succeeded Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, who served as Speaker from 2001 to 2011. She is also the current Member of Parliament for Kamuli District Women’s Constituency, in Busoga Sub- region a position she has held since 1989.
She was born in Kamuli District, Eastern Uganda, on 24 May 1956. Rebecca Kadaga attended Namasagali College for her high school education. She studied law at Makerere University, graduating with the degree of Bachelor of Laws, in 1978. She went on to obtain a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Center in Kampala in 1979. In 2000, she obtained a Diploma in Women’s Law from the University of Zimbabwe the. In 2003, she obtained the degree of Master of Art, specializing in Women’s Law, also from the University of Zimbabwe. In 2019, Nkumba University, a private university in Uganda, awarded Kadaga an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
Between 1984 and 1988, she was in private law practice. From 1989 to 1996, she served as the member of parliament for Kamuli District in the District Woman’s Constituency. She served as the Chairperson of the University Council for Mbarara University, between 1993 and 1996. During 1996, she served as Secretary General of the East African Women Parliamentarians Association.
From 1996 to 1998, Rebecca Kadaga was the Ugandan Minister of State for Regional Cooperation (Africa and the Middle East). She then served as Minister of State for Communication and Aviation from 1998 to 1999 and as Minister for Parliamentary Affairs from 1999 to 2000. She was elected as Deputy Speaker of Parliament in 2001, a position that she held until 19 May 2011, when she was elected Speaker of Parliament.
Following the February 2016 general elections, Kadaga was unanimously re-elected as Speaker of Parliament on 19 May 2016.
Besides her duties as speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, she sits on the following Parliamentary Committies:
- Appointments Committee – The Committee reviews all Cabinet appointments by the President, and may approve or reject an appointment: The Speaker chairs the committee
- The Parliamentary Commission – The Speaker chairs the Commission
- The Business Committee – The Speaker chairs the committe
Kadaga vowed to pass the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill through parliament by December 2012. The bill – sometimes referred to as the “Kill the Gays bill” – at one time sought to make acts of homosexuality punishable by death or life imprisonment but later removed the death penalty option from the bill. She says it will become law since most Ugandans “are demanding it”.
In December 2012, Kadaga was in Rome to give a speech at the Seventh Session of the Consultative Assembly of Parliamentarians for the International Criminal Court and the Rule of Law.
Reports circulated that Kadaga received a blessing from Pope Benedict XVI at a Vatican mass. Soon after the news broke, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi issued a statement that said: “relations with the delegation were not out of the ordinary and no blessing was given.” The group of Ugandan MPs greeted the Pope “just like any other individuals attending an audience with the Pope would” and this was “by no means a specific sign of approval of Kadaga’s actions or proposals.”
In March 2020, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Kadaga tweeted that a “spray, which instantly kills the Corona virus, has been discovered & is to be co-produced in Uganda”. She gave an impression that what was later on to be understood as a simple sanitizer was actually treatment for COVID-19 and received so much backlash from Ugandans on social media and professional bodies in the medical field like the Uganda Medical Association, and the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda. She hit back by calling the people of the Association brainless.
In April 2020, during the COVID-19 Pandemic , Kadaga and her fellow members of parliament allocated to themselves over 10 billion Uganda shillings of what was meant to be relief funds for efforts to fight against the pandemic and its associated socio-economic disruptions.