Parliament removes MP Zaake from Commissioner position

At least 176 MPs are needed to move the motion for the removal of a Commissioner from office.

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Francis Zaake

Mp Francis Zaake

Parliament on Thursday voted to remove Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake from the Parliamentary Commission.

This followed a report that confirmed that Zaake made statements that brought parliament into disrepute, in breach of the rule on public trust and confidence under the Code of Conduct of MPs.

The report by the Rules, Privileges and Discipline Committee of Parliament is a result of a probe that followed a complaint raised by the Bardege-Layibi Division MP, Martin Ojara Mapenduzi who wanted to move a motion for Zaake’s removal from the parliamentary commission over abusive tweets, he posted targeting the deputy Speaker Anita Among, as an individual and as a presiding officer.

In his post, made on February 9, Zaake, a member of the opposition National Unity Platform said Among was a dishonest person who lacked “intelligential prowess.”

“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 but with the utmost level of recklessness that though tortured, I won a medal in East African Parliamentary Games,” Zaake tweeted.

He further blamed Deputy Speaker 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,” he went on.

The tweets were in response to Among’s comment about Zaake’s recovery, which earned parliament gold at the East African Parliamentary Games, despite claims that he had been tortured while in state custody.

She made the remarks during a debate on Tuesday 8, February, during debate on a statement tabled by the Acting Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Muruli Mukasa.

But a week later, Mapenduzi said that he intended to move a motion to have Zaake is relieved of his duties as a commissioner for denigrating the integrity of Parliament and Office of the Speaker

“…last week, the nation woke up to a rant by a Member of this House, a Commissioner of Parliament, the honourable Zaake Francis through his known social media handles where he insulted the integrity of this House and above all, the integrity of the Office of the Speaker,” Mapenduzi said in relation to a tweet on Zaake’s social media handle.

He noted that Zaake’s outburst was in breach of the code of conduct for a Member of Parliament particularly a requirement to conduct themselves in a manner, which will maintain and strengthen the public trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament.

But the matter was then referred to the Rules Committee for hearing. Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu, who also chairs the committee told parliament on Thursday that Zaake’s conduct amounted to misbehaviour and misconduct of a Member of Parliament and recommended that Zaake apologize to the House for his actions.

After his presentation, Butambala Woman MP Aisha Kabanda also tabled a minority report in which a section of Opposition MPs recommended reconciliation between the parties involved in the matter for smooth running of Parliament and avoidance of unnecessary tension.

However, her plea did not yield results as Rukiga County MP, Roland Ndyomugyenyi took to the floor and proposed an amendment to the recommendations of the main committee report.

He said that parliament should find MP Zaake unfit to hold the position of a Commissioner of Parliament in order for the House to restore its dignity.

The Leader of the Opposition asked the House to specifically process the recommendations in the Committee report rather than be driven by emotions.

He said that this would create harmony among the MPs since they are to work together for the next five years.

“This is a serious matter….you have a wife, a daughter, have you ever seen your mother ejaculating?” Among questioned, before asking if the proposed amendment had been seconded.

A number of MPs from mainly the ruling National Resistance Movement -NRM party stood up in support of Ndyomugyenyi’s proposal to eject Zaake from the commission, prompting a walkout by the opposition.

Through a secret ballot, 155 MPs voted in favour of the motion, three voted against while two votes were invalid.

With this result, Among declared that Zaake had ceased to be a Commissioner of Parliament and that he was required to appear before Parliament within one week to offer an apology.

But Mpuuga described the process as illegal. “We used our space to guide the process but the mob came with a predetermined position,” Mpuuga said.

At least 176 MPs are needed to move the motion for the removal of a Commissioner from office. For the motion to succeed after the debate, the House needs a majority.

NRM enjoys a majority in the 11th Parliament with 336 MPs while the Opposition Political Parties have only 109 MPs.

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).

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