Friday May 30 2014

EAC court paves way for Zziwa censure

Eala Speaker Margaret

Eala Speaker Margaret Zziwa. FILE PHOTO 


The East African Court of Justice has dismissed an application to issue an order restraining members of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) taking action against their Speaker, Margaret Zziwa, paving way for her possible censure.

The application to restrain EALA parliamentarians had been filed by Mbidde Foundation owned by Democratic Party legal advisor, Fred Mbidde. Mr Mbidde is also an EALA member.

The court had issued interim orders blocking Zziwa’s censure until it delivers its ruling on May 29.

The ruling by justice Jean Bosco Butasi (Principal Judge), Justice Isaac Lenaola (Deputy Principal Judge) and Lady Justice Monica Mugenyi said that at the current stage, the presentation of the petition before the EALA Assembly was in compliance with the Treaty as prescribed under Rule 9 (4) of the Assembly’s Rules of procedure.

The provision states that; “The motion will be tabled in the Assembly within seven days of its receipt by the Clerk and the House shall refer the motion to the committee on Legal, rules and Privileges to investigate and report its findings to the Assembly for debate”.

Court added that no material was valid to the court as would suggest that the Rules on procedure of the impeachment of the EALA Speaker was in infringement of the Treaty for the establishment of the East African Community as alleged by the Applicant.

In addition, the court found that there is no prima facie case demonstrating an act of the Treaty infringement of Article 30(1). The court ruled that it was satisfied that the Applicant is unlikely to suffer injury as would the Secretary General of the community should an injunction be granted. “The Court therefore said that if the injunction is granted the Secretary General will suffer inconvenience with more far reaching repercussions to the entire Community.”

The regional court also found that the Secretary General does not have the mandate to seek advisory opinion on the procedure of the removal of the Speaker and even the entities mandated to seek the same are not obliged to do so and therefore the Republic of Uganda (2nd Respondent) did not find the need to seek the advisory opinion.

The parties in the matter will appear in Court for the scheduling conference of the main Reference on June 20, 2014. The Applicant Margaret Zziwa, Fred Mukasa Mbidde and his Lawyer Mr.Justin Semuyaba, Mr. Jet Mwebaze Advocate for the Speaker EALA, Applicants were present in Court.

About FSA
Court says the removal of the Speaker of the Assembly is the function of EALA as provided by Article 53 of the Treaty and the procedure of that is clearly detailed in the Rules of the Assembly. Article 49 (2) (g) of the Treaty gives mandate to the Assembly to formulate its own rules of procedure as well as those that pertain to its committees of which the committee on legal, rules and privileges is one.

Read the press release from the EAC court below: