Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Jailed city lawyer Male Mabirizi has written to the Clerk to Parliament to make arrangements to enable Muhammad Ssegirinya, the Kawempe North Member of parliament, and his Makindye West counterpart, Allan Ssewanyana to represent their constituencies while on remand.
According to Mabirizzi, the two legislators have been on remand since 7 September 2021 after making futile attempts to seek bail, and authorities in parliament have ‘deliberately locked’ them out. The two MPs are battling a string of charges including murder, attempted murder, and aiding and abetting terrorism, stemming from the machete killings in Lwengo and Masaka districts between March and June 2021. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and have been on remand.
Citing Article 1(4) of the Constitution, Mabirizi pointed out the people shall express their will and consent to be governed and who shall govern them, and how they should be governed through regular free and fair elections of their representatives.
“This is therefore to require you to stop playing with the sovereignty of the people by arranging for their representation of their constituents while on remand,” read Mabirizi’s January 21, 2023 letter to Adolf Mwesige Kasaija, the Clerk to Parliament.
Human Rights Lawyer, Henry Komakech Kilama backed Mabirizi’s petition, saying a convict does not lose his right as a citizen. Kilama pointed out that if the Clerk declines to respond, Mabirizi can go to court to compel Parliament to act.
Kilama observed that the issues Mabirizi raised in the letters are fundamental adding that the MPs have never been convicted and therefore their seats have not been declared vacant, and thus they must be allowed to deliberate from remand.
Chris Obore, the Director of Communications and Public Affairs in parliament, said that he is not yet aware of Mabirizi’s letter to the Clerk.
In a second letter on the same date received and stamped by the Parliamentary Records Management Systems – PRMS, Mabirizi asked the Clerk to appoint a date for him to enable him to inspect the ongoing delayed construction of the new Parliamentary Chambers. Mabirizi is concerned about the delayed completion of the new 179 billion Shillings Parliamentary Chamber, which commenced in 2018 and was expected to be completed within three years by July 2021.
Mabirizi argues that a lot of money is being spent on the construction and wants to exercise his right as enshrined under article 17(1)(i) of the Constitution, which bestows on every citizen a duty to combat corruption and misuse of or wastage of public property. Accordingly, he requested to inspect of the construction site to find out the quality of ongoing works, what causes the delay, and the general work progress.
He asked the Clerk to make the required arrangements and inform him of the desired date of inspection. Further, Mabirizi in his third letter also requested the Clerk to serve him with copies of the Hansard, Bills, and certificates that led to the 2005 and 2015 Constitutional Amendment Acts, which he says are questionable both in content and procedures adopted to enact them.
In the exercise of his constitutional right under Article 41(1) of the Constitution, which is amplified by the Access to Information Act, 2005, Mabirizi indicated that he wants to scrutinize the documents with a view of ‘initiating serious criminal proceedings against the persons holding positions of among others, speakers of Parliament.