Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of Parliament from the Opposition have questioned the manner in which the Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake was removed from the Parliamentary Commission.
On Thursday, the House needed 265 MPs to vote in favour of the motion seeking to remove Zaake from the Parliamentary Commission. However, 155 MPs voted in favour, which is contrary to a requirement under the Rules of Procedure for 50 percent plus one member of the voting MPs to support the motion. The 11th Parliament has a total of 529 MPs.
Earlier, the Rules, Privileges and Discipline Committee recommended that Zaake apologizes to the House for his actions that are tantamount to indiscipline. In its report, the committee confirmed that Zaake made statements on his social media accounts of Facebook and Twitter and that the statements brought Parliament into disrepute.
The committee also says that Zaake was in breach of the rule on public trust and confidence under the Code of Conduct of MPs.
Addressing journalists on Friday, the Leader of Opposition Mathias Mpuuga described Thursday’s events in Parliament as illegal.
Mpuuga said that the basic rule of numbers required to remove a commissioner from office was not respected.
The report 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 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’s National Unity Platform-NUP 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 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 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 relieved of his duties as a commissioner for demeaning the integrity of Parliament and Office of the Speaker. Among asked the Rules committee to investigate the matter but this did not stop Mapenduzi to file a notice with the Clerk to Parliament, Adolf Mwesige and secretly collected signatures from MPs in its support.
But Mpuuga says that the Opposition will stand by MP Zaake to get justice.
On whether the Opposition plans to take action against Mapenduzi, the chairperson of the Opposition led Public Accounts Committee- PAC Local Government, Mpuuga said that Mapenduzi will be given time to reflect.
He also revealed that before Thursday events, he and other MPs met with the Deputy Speaker over the matter to avoid conflict in parliament. Mpuuga however says that they did not succeed in getting an amicable settlement to the matter.