155 MPs vote to remove Zaake from Parliament Commission
A total of 155 MPs on Thursday evening voted to remove Mr Francis Zaake, the Mityana Municipality MP of the National Unity Platform (NUP), from the Parliament Commission for disparaging the Deputy Speaker, Ms Anita Among.
Only four members voted against the removal of Mr Zaake, while the tally registered two invalid votes.
After the motion to censure Mr Zaake was carried, Ms Among said he will be required to apologise to the House within one week.
“We ask the Opposition to give us another name,” she said.
Moments before the voting which was by secret ballot, some members of the Opposition exited the chamber.
The motion for the removal of Mr Zaake was moved by Gulu City West MP, Ojara Mapenduzi after the House adopted the majority report authored by Parliament’s Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline chaired by Bugweri County MP, Abdu Katuntu.
The committee in its recommendations had asked Mr Zaake to apoligise to the House saying his conduct was not proper and amounted to misbehavior and misconduct.
The committee had been investigating Mr Zaake for two weeks over his alleged abusive tweets, targeting the deputy Speaker, Ms Anita Among, as an individual and as a presiding officer.
While presenting their report on the floor of the House on Thursday, Mr Katuntu said that after the committee’s evaluation of the submissions and evidence, the members observed that Mr Zaake did not take steps provided in the Rules of Procedure to challenge the words of the presiding officer which allegedly led him to post the impugned social media posts.
“This is clearly so upon examining his statements made to the committee. In his own words, he was shocked and deeply hurt by the remarks made by the Deputy Speaker. Hon Zaake, therefore, could have raised a motion to question the conduct and/or remarks made by the Deputy Speaker.
It is, therefore, the committee’s view that the conduct of the Hon Zaake was not proper and amounted to misbehavior and misconduct,” Mr Katuntu said.
On the allegations of breach of privilege, the committee found no merit in the complaint.
“There is no privilege provided for under the law which Hon Zaake Francis breached. lt is the committee’s considered view that this House finds him innocent of this complaint. The committee recommends that Hon Zaake Francis apologizes to the House.
The Parliamentary Commission should take steps to address the concern about his personal security. The committee appeals to MPs to act with restraint and decorum both within and outside the precincts of Parliament. Each MP bears a duty to give honour and respect to the institution of Parliament,”Mr Katuntu added.
However, while presenting a minority report on Mr Zaake’s alleged misconduct and misbehavior, Butambala District Woman MP, Ms Aisha Kabanda, said the committee’s decision to be blind about the censure move that was repetitively mentioned by Mr Zaake and his lawyers as reason for the committee’s partiality compromises the committee’s findings.
“We infer that even when the matter of censure of Hon. Zaake Francis was not the matter before the committee, it was important that members pronounced themselves about signing of the purported censure motion. Suppose it is true as claimed by Hon Zaake Francis that members of the committee had actually signed for him to be censured, it would mean that indeed Hon Zaake Francis was investigated by people that were already biased about him,” she said.
According to her, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) provided as proof email address, email@example.com that was used to open the Facebook account on which the alleged post was made.
“ln the process of further investigation the committee called for Zaake Francis’ personal data file where it was found that actually, the email, firstname.lastname@example.org, belonged to a next of kin of Hon Zaake. This makes us wonder whether the MP would be responsible for actions of their next of kin,” she argued.
The minority report recommended for reconciliation between the parties involved in the matter for “smooth running of Parliament and avoidance of unnecessary tension.”
Ms Kabanda added: “We also recommend that Parliament amends the law to provide for a panel of presiding officers in situations where both Speaker and Deputy Speaker could be either indisposed or conflicted.”
The minority report was not adopted.
Rukiga County MP, Mr Roland Ndyomugyenyi proposed an amendment to the main report that Mr Zaake should leave the office of Commissioner of Parliament.
“We need to dignify this Parliament,” he said.