- History. On September 16, 1980, Alexander Waibale, then chairperson of the National Consultative Council, which was the interim Parliament of Uganda, resigned his post after disagreeing with the Executive arm of government. The NCC was the 2nd Parliament of Uganda which lasted from April 1979 to December 1980. Faustin Mugabe recently visited Waibale at his home in Jinja Town.
- Alex, UPC needs you. Your family had been in UPC. We are going to have multiparty [politics]. Therefore, we have made research and we have come to know that you are the right person to look after our interests in Busoga region” Paulo Muwanga, ex-Military Commission head
The National Consultative Council (NCC) was an interim Parliament established during the March 23 to 25, 1979, Moshi Unity Conference in Tanzania in March 1979.
The NCC was formed by 42 members representing 22 anti-Idi Amin exile groups. During the conference, it was agreed that once they returned home after the fall of Kampala, more members in Uganda would be elected to the NCC by district councillors from the 34 districts that existed then.
In Jinja District, three candidates contested and Alexander Waibale trounced them. Although he does not remember who the other contestants were he says, “What I recall is that they were 42 councillors in Jinja District. And what I remember is that I got 39 votes out of 42. And I became a member of the NCC.”
Earlier, Waibale had been appointed the deputy mayor of Jinja by the minister of Local Government of the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) government, which succeeded Amin’s government.
Rugumayo absconds from the chair
In May 1980, president Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia died. The House moved a motion that Uganda be represented at his burial. And four members were selected to fly to Yugoslavia for the burial. They were chairman of the NCC, Prof Edward Rugumayo, Prof Dani Nabudere, Omwony Ojok and Prof Yash Tandon.
But while they were there, president Godfrey Binaisa was on May 12, 1980, overthrown and put under house arrest in Entebbe by the six-man Military Commission headed by Paulo Muwanga and deputised by Yoweri Museveni.
The Military Commission ousted Binaisa in a silent and subtle coup. The overthrow of Binaisa meant that Parliament too had been ousted and so Rugumayo and company chose not to return to Uganda.
When two weeks elapsed without the chairman of the National Assembly appearing in the House, as required by the standing order of Parliament, the chairman of the Military Commission, Muwanga, convened the House and announced that a new chairman would be elected immediately.
But this was after Muwanga had received official communication from Rugamayo in Nairobi that he had decided not return to Uganda.
Waibale is elected
Waibale, a lawyer, was elected interim chairman of the NCC on May 22, 1980, when the House convened for the first time after Rugumayo had absconded from the chair.
On that day, the Clerk to the House, Edward Ochwo, presided over the meeting and read the promulgation, and after two names were proposed for the chairmanship of the House.
This was historic. For the first time in the history of Parliament two members had contested for the speakership. They were Alex Waibale and Dent Ocaya Lakidi.
Lakidi was the Kampala deputy mayor and delegate for Kampala District. Waibale polled 53 votes while Lakidi got 27 votes.
After Waibale was declared victor, the chairman of the Military Commission, Muwanga, stood and congratulated him.
Waibale then took the chair and made a brief speech: “Compatriots, allow me to take this opportunity to thank you for the trust you have put in me by electing me to the chair with such a big majority vote.” But four months into his Speakership, he resigned.
UPC attempts to cajole Waibale
When Sunday Monitor asked Waibale why he resigned, he said the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) party attempted to coerce him into leading their “gerrymandering project”, which he says he refused.
The NCC was about to debate the demarcation of constituencies pending the general elections. UPC wanted some villages in the DP stronghold to be taken away and be added to UPC areas so that it would be easy to win the elections.
One day Paulo Muwanga invited Waibale to his official home in Kololo, Kampala, and said to him: “Alex, UPC needs you. Your family had been in UPC. We are going to have multiparty [politics]. Therefore, we have made research and we have come to know that you are the right person to look after our interests in Busoga [sub-] region.”
While Waibale’s family had been UPC, times had changed and he had changed his political affiliation. He was now a Democratic Party (DP) sympathiser, although an Independent.
Muwanga, meanwhile, had received information that Waibale had acquired a loan from the Uganda-Libyan Arab Bank and had deposited some of it to buy a car, a pick-up truck and lorry from Uganda Motors in Kampala.
Muwanga called Waibale for a second meeting, during which he told the Speaker that UPC was willing to repay the loan and buy him two more cars if he accepted to work with the Electoral Commission (EC) in the “gerrymandering project”.
But Waibale says he refused the offer, claiming that UPC had lost support in Busoga after president Milton Obote caused the arrest of former vice president William Nadiope in the 1960s. But it was not true; UPC was still strong in Busoga. Waibale was only looking for an excuse not to work with UPC.
Waibale’s refusal angered Muwanga. In a stupor of vengeance, Muwanga called Uganda Motors and ordered them not to sell Waibale any cars.
“The next day, I was called at Uganda Motors to pick up my cheques,” Waibale recalls. “When I reached at the Uganda Motors offices, I was told they had been instructed by Paulo Muwanga not to sell him any vehicles.”
When Muwanga thought he had humiliated and intimidate the Speaker of the Parliament, he called him for another meeting. This time, Muwanga had Brig David Oyite-Ojok, the Chief of Staff, and Maj Gen Tito Okello, the Chief of Defence Forces.
The trio tried to coerce Waibale to accept that elections be held in September 1980 and not December, but Waibale told them that the matter should be taken to the parliamentary caucus.
When that failed, Muwanga sent Capt Namiti, a NCC army representative, a fellow Musoga and friend, but Waibale still didn’t change his position.
On September 16, 1980, Waibale convened Parliament and told them that he had resigned his post.
“I resigned on principle because I did not want to be pushed. As a Speaker, I was supposed to be independent,” he told Sunday Monitor.
“So when I resigned as the Speaker, I drove to Jinja Road Police Station. It was about 3.30pm. I drove the Mercedes Benz 300SE [official car] and gave the keys to the DPC Jinja Road Police Station and told him that I am no longer the Speaker of Parliament. The following day, I took a taxi and I went home,” he recounts.
In December 1980 general elections, he contested for Jinja West constituency on DP ticket and won.
He was a member of the third Parliament of Uganda which lasted from December 1980 to July 1985. Today, though aging, he is still a practicing lawyer. He is married with seven children.