Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Government Chief Whip Thomas Tayebwa has asked National Resistance Movement – NRM Members of Parliament not to sign the censure motion against the Minister of Security, Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi.
The Opposition led by their leader in parliament, Mathias Mpuuga accuse Minister Muhwezi of allegedly abdicating responsibility in the face of torture of Ugandans by security operatives.
MPs from the Opposition on Thursday started signing the motion whose notice was officially lodged to the Clerk to Parliament, Speaker, and Deputy Speaker’s office on 8th February.
Out of the total 529 MPs in the 11th Parliament, the Opposition requires MP 176 signatures for the censure motion to succeed. The NRM party has majority numbers with 336 MPs which all Opposition parties, combined have a total of 109 while Independents are 74.
Now in his letter to all MPs under the NRM Parliamentary Caucus, Tayebwa describes the proposed motion by the Opposition as frivolous and unwarranted.
Tayebwa, who doubles as the Caucus Chairperson says that the Opposition petition is ill-conceived and politically motivated to weaken the NRM Government and the party through blackmailing some of our senior and hardworking cadres.
“We are all aware that torture is not a policy of government nor is it a method of interrogation. The law is very clear. The President had publically condemned torture on several occasions. Torture attracts legal remedies in Court, not political remedies,” reads part of his letter dated 10th February 2022.
He adds that the petition for which the Opposition seeks signatures fails to show the personal culpability of Minister Muhwezi in the performance of his duties that would warrant his censure.
“This is another strategy by the Opposition to remain relevant in the media through blackmailing our government. As the NRM family in the House, an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” says Tayebwa.
The Opposition first revealed the move to censure Muwhezi on Tuesday as their next action being taken as part of a two weeks boycott of plenary sittings that was declared last week on Thursday.
“We have resolved to invoke rule 109 of our Rules of Procedure and Article 118 of the Constitution to censure the Minister of Security because over the last one and half years has been receiving complaints from the public…I laid documents in Parliament in his presence over torture, forced disappearances, murders and he did not respond,” Mpuuga told journalists then.
An official notice of censure seen by Uganda Radio Network- URN was lodged to the Clerk of Parliament, Speaker, and Deputy Speaker’s office on 8th February. Mpuuga accuses the Minister of Security of totally abdicating his responsibility, breach of public duty, and that the Opposition finds him unfit to continue being in occupation of a sensitive public office.
Mpuuga’s notice indicates that Minister Muhwezi has violated the oath of allegiance and office by condoning human rights violations including enforced disappearances, torture while in detention, and extrajudicial killings.
In the past few weeks, several pictures and videos of citizens have been circulating on different media with reported torture by security forces while in detention. The most recent case is that of Novelist, Kakwenza Rukirabasaija and Samuel Masereka, the National Unity Platform –NUP Coordinator in Kasese district who displayed torture marks on their bodies received under detention.
This is not the first time that the Opposition in Parliament is moving to censure different Ministers. In the past parliaments, different Opposition leaders sought to censure Ministers but the process collapsed after failing to raise the required signatures due to their decimal number in parliament.
In 2013, a motion seeking to censure the then, Kampala Minister Frank Tumwebaze flopped after only 20 MPs signed out of the required 125 for the censure to go ahead during the 9th Parliament.
Another censure motion against former Security Minister, Gen. Elly Tumwine collapsed after a section of Members of Parliament faulted their colleagues for shying away from the censure process. Tumwine was being accused of contempt of Parliament.
Tayebwa is not well informed. This behavior by government is not new:
“Located 16 kilometers northeast of Gulu town, in the sub-county of Awach, Gulu District, lies the
quiet village of Burcoro. Despite its apparent tranquility, a sinister past remains hidden behind
the welcoming faces of its inhabitants. Between the 14th and the 18th of April 1991, Burcoro
was the scene of a brutal operation carried out by the 22nd Battalion of the National Resistance
Army (NRA) in which several hundred people were detained at Burcoro Primary School. They
were released only after being interrogated, tortured, and sexually abused throughout the four
days of the operation. In this instance alone, government soldiers committed crimes including:
murder, rape, sexual violence, torture, cruel treatment, deprivation of liberty, outrages upon
personal dignity, attacking civilians, pillaging and other inhumane acts.”