Opposition protests removal of MP Zaake from Commissioner office

Opposition MPs walk out of Parliament

Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi, the acting Leader of the Opposition (LOP) has queried a motion seeking to drop one of the backbench legislators from the Parliamentary Commission.

In his February 15th, 2022 letter titled ‘Ambiguity of the motion to remove a Commissioner’ Kivumbi has asked the Clerk to Parliament, Adolf Mwesige to drop the proposed motion from the order paper that is scheduled for debate this afternoon describing it as incompetent, irregular and misconceived.

On Monday URN carried a story indicating that a group of legislators led by Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Bardege-Layidi Division in Gulu City were mooting a motion to push from the removal of the Mityana Municipality MP, Francis Zaake from the Parliamentary Commission, the top most decision-making organ of the House.

It is provided for under Article 87A of the Constitution.

The biggest opposition party, the National Unity Platform (NUP) nominated Zaake to the Parliamentary Commission as a back-bench member. The other three back-bench Commissioners are from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.

The Commission is chaired by the Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah and the Deputy Speaker Anita Among, the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja, the Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga, the Government Chief Whip, Thomas Tayebwa and Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija. According to today’s order paper, Mapenduzi is scheduled to move a motion for a resolution of the house under Rule 110 of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Uganda and Section 5 of the Administration of Parliament Act.

Rule 110 of the Parliament Rules of Procedure and Section 5 of the Administration of Parliament Act provides for the removal of a commissioner.

Sources indicate that the item on the order paper is targeting Zaake for attacking the Deputy Speaker, Anita Among on his Twitter handle on Wednesday last week. However, Kivumbi says that it is unfortunate that the motion on the order paper does not indicate, which Commissioner is being targeted.

“Besides, Parliament has not been notified of notice of a Motion for removal of a Commissioner as required under Rules 110 (4) and 107 (4) of the Rules of Procedure.

The provisions require that the Clerk of Parliament pins the Notice for a motion to remove a Commissioner on Members’ notice board together with its grounds and particulars,” reads part of Kivumbi’s letter.

He says this has constrained the opposition to prepare for the motion.

The Acting LOP also says that the motion has created uncertainty amongst the backbench Commissioners due to challenges since they can’t determine which of them is targeted.

“Fair-mindedness would demand that Parliament is explicitly informed on whether any of the Commissioners is incompetent, misbehaved, insane and unable to perform the functions of his or her office arising from infirmity of body or mind.

These are the grounds for removal of a Commissioner articulated under Rule 110 (1) of the Rules of Procedure,” Kivumbi adds.

The other backbench Commissioners are Bukhooli Central MP, Solomon Silwany, Rubanda Woman MP, Prossy Akampurira and Zombo Woman MP, Esther Afayochan.

According to the Opposition, failure to display the Notice of the Motion has also made it difficult to determine whether there is compliance with Rule 110 (5) of the Rules of Procedure.

This particular rule stipulates that a Motion for removal of a Commissioner is placed on the Order Paper fourteen days from the date of notice initiated in writing by the movers to the Clerk to Parliament.

“Additionally, failure to display the Notice has shielded the Motion in secrecy.

It remains unclear how one-third of all voting Members of Parliament could have been notified and persuaded to sign the notice.

This compromises transparency and compliance to Rules 110 (2) and 107 (5) of the Rules of Procedure,” Kivumbi further writes.

He reminds the Clerk to Parliament that the principle of natural justice demands a fair hearing for any of the Commissioners that may be targeted by the Motion.

The substantive Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga is out of the country.

The opposition has still maintained its earlier boycott of the plenary to protest torture and human rights abuses in the country.

The legislators are expected back on the floor of Parliament next week Tuesday.

Joyce Bagala, the Shadow Minister for Information and Anti-Corruption maintains that they will remain out of the house, saying that the proposed motion is in breach of the Parliament Rules of Procedure.

MP Zaake’s Tweets

Sources indicate that Zaake is being targeted for his tweets against Deputy Speaker, Anita Among, which appeared on his Twitter handle last week.

“To my consternation, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament while presiding over a session of parliament controverted the finding of High Court in Suit No. 85 of 2020 that I was tortured by sarcastically stating with the utmost level of recklessness that though tortured, I Won a medal in E. A @Parliament_Ug games” reads part of Zaake’s tweet.

He further blamed Among for failing in her duty towards legislators and the country at large.

“The utter bunkum emanating from her dishonest lips was only intended to mock and break me down, this is idiocy! Parliament deserves better, how a person of her calibre lacks intelligent prowess to appreciate that healing is a natural phenomenon,” reads part of Zaake’s tweets.

The tweets were in response to Among’s comment about Zaake during the debate on the statement on torture tabled by the Acting Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Muruli Mukasa on February 8th, 2022.

The Deputy Speaker’s comment followed a submission by Kampala Central MP, Muhammad Nsereko who said that some members of the House are on record for having been tortured.

He cited Zaake, saying that even the court ruled in his favour and that he is awaiting compensation.

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