The Acting Leader of the Opposition, Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi has revealed plans to publish names of Members of Parliament who have so far signed on a motion seeking to censure the Minister of Security, Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi.
The Minister is accused of abdicating responsibility in the face of torture of Ugandans by security officers.
On Thursday, Joyce Bagala, the Shadow Minister of Information and Anti-Corruption revealed that more than 60 MPs have appended their signatures on a motion deposited at the office of the Sergeant –at- Arms.
Bagala said that they were still hopeful that the required 176 signatures would be raised before the 10 days provided for under the Parliament Rules of Procedure elapse.
The Opposition in Parliament started signing a motion seeking to censure Minister Muhwezi on February 10 and the 10 working days provided for under the Parliament Rules of Procedure elapse next week on Thursday 24 February.
Out of the total 529 MPs in the 11th Parliament, the Opposition requires MP 176 signatures for the censure motion to succeed.
The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) Party enjoys majority numbers with 336 MPs while all Opposition Political Parties with representation in Parliament have 109 MP. The rest are Independent MPs.
“That decision will be taken by the Shadow Cabinet as to whether we should publish it or not.
But in my humble personal view, it is not just an opportunity, it is a wholesome obligation for us to publish this…because we are people’s representatives, we are on oath, the oath we take is to protect, uphold and defend the Constitution. And in the Constitution of Uganda, torture is a non-delegable right,” said Kivumbi in an interview.
There are reports that a section of Opposition MPs are reluctant to append signatures on a motion spearheaded by their leader Mathias Mpuuga, and instead reported to have already signed a petition from the ruling government to remove one of their colleagues, the Mityana Municipality MP, Francis Zaake from the Parliamentary Commission office.
Zaake is accused of insulting the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among through his Twitter handle.
“I hear there is quite now a number of people who feel so terribly hurt because somebody was discomforted by a statement on Twitter. This is so terrible, this is so terrible. Those pretenders are not on the side of those, whose buttocks are burnt, who are tortured. So if you have a community that has those kinds of elements…we need to expose them,” Kivumbi said.
Asuman Basalirwa, the Bugiri Municipality MP said that the proposed censure of Minister Muhwezi is justified and that those who are yet to sign will be seen as those in support of torture. He said that by Friday, 69 MPs had signed on the motion.
The Opposition revealed the move to censure Muhwezi on Tuesday last week as their next action being taken as part of a two weeks’ boycott of plenary sittings that was declared last week on Thursday.
“We have resolved to invoke rule 109 of our Rules of Procedure and Article 118 of the Constitution to censure the Minister of Security because over the last one and half years government has been receiving complaints from the public…I laid documents in Parliament in his presence over torture, forced disappearances, murders and he did not respond,” Mpuuga told journalists then.
An official notice of censure seen by Uganda Radio Network- URN was lodged to the Clerk of Parliament, Speaker, and Deputy Speaker’s office on February 8. Mpuuga accuses the Minister of Security of abdicating his responsibility, breach of public duty, and that the Opposition finds him unfit to continue being in occupation of a sensitive public office.
Mpuuga’s notice indicates that Muhwezi has violated the oath of allegiance and office by condoning human rights violations including enforced disappearances, torture while in detention, and extrajudicial killings.
In the past few weeks, several pictures and videos of citizens have been circulating on different media with reported torture by security forces while in detention.
Recent cases Include those of Novelist Kakwenza Rukirabasaija and Samuel Masereka, the National Unity Platform –NUP Coordinator in Kasese district who displayed torture marks on their bodies inflicted under detention.
This is not the first time that the Opposition in Parliament is moving to censure different Ministers.
In the past MPs succeeded once and had Muhwezi sacked from cabinet, but subsequent attempts to censure ministers after the restoration of parties have collapsed after failing to raise the required signatures due to insufficient opposition number in parliament.
In 2013, a motion seeking to censure the then Kampala Minister Frank Tumwebaze flopped after only 20 MPs signed out of the required 125 for the censure to go ahead during the 9th Parliament.
Another censure motion against former Security Minister, Gen. Elly Tumwine collapsed after a section of Members of Parliament faulted their colleagues for shying away from the censure process. Tumwine was being accused of contempt of Parliament.