Members of Parliament mainly from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM ) party are secretly signing a motion seeking to drop Mityana Municipality MP, Francis Zaake from the Parliamentary Commission.
Sources indicate that more than 200 legislators have already appended signatures on the document that is reportedly being kept by Iganga Municipality MP, Peter Mugema.
Uganda Radio Network (URN) has learnt that this signature process started on Tuesday despite a directive by Deputy Speaker Anita Among for the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline to investigate Zaake for alleged misconduct and use of language out of the decorum of parliament.
She issued the directive following a matter of national importance raised by Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Bardege-Layidi Division MP in Gulu city in which he informed the house about his intention to move a motion under Section 5 of the Parliament Administration Act for Zaake’s removal from the parliamentary commission, the topmost organ of the house.
Zaake is accused of using his known social media accounts to insult the integrity of the House and the integrity of the Office of the Speaker.
Before the Committee investigation even kicks off, MPs have unexpectedly started collecting signatures to remove him from office a parallel process to what is provided under the Parliament Rules of Procedure.
Rule 56 provides for notice of motions and states that no Motion shall be moved unless the Member moving it has given written notice to the Speaker and the Clerk not less than three days previous to the sitting at which the member intends to move the motion.
Rule 110 of the Parliament Rules of Procedure provides for the removal of a Commissioner and outlines the necessary processes to be followed.
It states that a Member of the Commission, other than the Speaker or the Leader of Government business, Leader of the Opposition or the Minister of finance may be removed from office by Parliament for incompetence, misconduct, insanity, and inability to perform the functions of his or her office arising from infirmity of body or mind.
This involves a motion for a resolution for the removal of a Commissioner to be initiated by a notice in writing to the Clerk, signed by not less than one-third of all the voting Members of Parliament, indicating their intention for moving the Motion for the removal.
It requires that the Motion for the resolution be placed on the Order Paper fourteen days from the date on which, notice to remove the Commissioner shall have been communicated to the Clerk and a Commissioner shall be removed upon the vote of at least half of all voting Members of Parliament.
NRM needs a total of 176 MPs to move the motion for the removal of a Commissioner from office.
For the motion to succeed after debate, the party needs a majority.
If it reaches that stage, the NRM can comfortably remove Zaake as it enjoys a majority in the 11th Parliament with 336 MPs while the Opposition Political Parties have only 109 MPs.
However, some Opposition MPs say the move is intended to divert them from their ongoing boycott against torture, detentions without trial and missing persons.
Betty Ethel Naluyima, the Wakiso Woman MP said that they would be back on the floor of parliament and shall defend themselves.
“The rules are also clear, the good thing is we shall return before parliament and handle the motion when presented,” said Naluyima.
Paul Nsubuga, the Busiro North MP said Zaake is being fought because he is not a yes-man.
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 composed of the Speaker as chair, and also has 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).
Besides the ongoing signature collection against Zaake, URN also learnt that his security detail given to a Commissioner has been withdrawn.
MP Zaake’s Tweets
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 in his tweet thus: “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”.
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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Is it possible for the impeached legislator to appeal against his impeachment?