Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa has directed the Rules, Privileges, and Discipline Committee of Parliament to probe the Minister of State for Housing, Persis Namuganza, regarding statements that allegedly question the integrity of Parliament.
Tayebwa made the directive on Wednesday during the plenary sitting following a procedural matter raised by Bukooli Central MP, Solomon Silwany.
Silwany said that in the last one week, Namuganza has been attacking the operations and work of parliament.
“Rule 190 of our rules of procedure gives the Speaker powers to form Adhoc committees and also to ensure that the committees perform the work that they are meant to do. However, the Minister was seen on Television questioning the integrity of the presiding officers of this House,” Silwany said in part.
He said that the Minister should be invited to the floor of parliament and explain the statements she made.
Sarah Opendi, the Tororo Woman MP told MPs that she was surprised by the statements of the Minister that the Adhoc committee on Nakawa-Naguru land investigations was formed to particularly fight her.
Asuman Basalirwa, the Bugiri Municipality MP said that parliament unanimously adopted the report of the Adhoc Committee on Nakawa-Naguru land with a recommendation that Namuganza steps aside.
“The fact that she did not step aside and she is continuing to belittle the image of parliament speaks volumes,” said Basalirwa.
Basalirwa appealed to the Deputy Speaker to invoke another rule to ensure that the dignity of parliament is preserved.
Maurice Kibalya, the Bugabula South MP said that reports adopted by the House are in the interest of the country and it is unacceptable for a Minister to demean the House.
But Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the Kira Municipality MP said that he would be comfortable if parliament stuck to the rules regarding the behavior of MPs during the debate, in the House, and their general behavior.
“I am against parliament sometimes acting like a mob, and I am also against the behavior of thinking that decisions of parliament cannot be criticized. We criticize the Executive, we criticize the Judiciary,” he said in part.
Ssemujju said that if there is a particular rule that Namuganza flouted, it should be proved before any decision is taken.
Tayebwa said that the important duty that MPs can do is to first protect the integrity and independence of the House.
“Whereas I agree with the hon. Ssemujju Nganda, hon. Ssemujju the day the decisions of this House are ridiculed…there is a difference between criticism and ridicule,” Tayebwa said.
He noted that he had seen some of the statements by the Minister and that the rules of natural justice require that the member is heard. He invoked rule 175 of the parliament rules of procedure and referred the case to the committee on rules for hearing.
Tayebwa directed the committee to report back to the House in two weeks’ time.
Namuganza was quoted in the media questioning the manner in which parliamentary committees treat investors and other people who appear before them. She said that committees had become like torture chambers and should respect the people who appear before them.
“When we meet the President, sometimes he gives verbal instructions. But when you reach the committee and deliver the instructions, you are accused of concocting them without further inquiry. This is very unfortunate,” Namuganza is quoted to have said.
In May, Parliament adopted the Adhoc Committee recommendation seeking to hold the Minister accountable for abuse of office and misleading the Uganda Land Commission –ULC into the allocation of the Nakawa-Naguru land to individuals and entities following Presidential Directives which were non-existent.
This is the second time that the Minister is being referred to the committee of Rules in two consecutive Parliaments.
During the Tenth Parliament, the then Deputy Speaker of Parliament, the late Jacob Oulanyah tasked the committee to probe the animosity between the Minister and former Speaker Rebecca Kadaga. Namuganza was then accused of allegedly insulting and threatening Kadaga referring to her as unqualified and unfit to hold the office of a Member of Parliament.
Namuganza rubbished the report by the Rules Committee that recommended that she either apologizes to Kadaga or face suspension for her behavior.
She said that this report was baseless and accused the committee of sidelining her and never summoning Kadaga for interrogations.