MPs clear Gen Tumwine of contempt of Parliament

Wednesday August 21 2019

Security Minister Gen Elly Tumwine seated in

Security Minister Gen Elly Tumwine seated in Parliament on August 21, 2019. Courtesy photo 

By Moses Kyeyune

Lawmakers on the Committee of Rules, Privileges and Discipline have exonerated Security Minister Gen Elly Tumwine of allegations relating to contempt of Parliament.

The MPs in a ten-member majority report indicated that utterances by Gen Tumwine did not undermine or impede the authority of Parliament.

The MPs include; Mr Clement Ongalo Obote, the chairperson, Mr Edward Makmot Otto, Jacob Opolot, Lowila Oketayot, James Acidri, Mr John Bosco Ikojo; Mr Apollo Masika; Mr Abdu Katuntu, Mr Ssempala Kigozi and Mr Wilfred Niwagaba.

The MPs, acting on instructions of the Speaker wanted to find out Gen Tumwine had abused his colleague, Mr Atiks Katusabe (FDC Bukonjo West) and uttered statements that demean Parliament or not.

The committee chairperson while presenting the report on the floor of Parliament on Wednesday said: “Whereas it is true that Gen Tumwine made the utterances, they did not necessarily amount to contempt of Parliament.”

Mr Katusabe, in his submission, both to Parliament and the committee indicated that Gen Tumwine questioned the authority of the speaker over a security squabble in Bukonjo West.

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"Who is the Speaker? Who is she? What is Parliament? The Speaker rules over Parliament. She does not rule over Uganda. This country was liberated by the military but not her Parliament. Don’t tell me about your Speaker and your Parliament. The army cannot be directed by civilians,” Gen Tumwine allegedly told Mr Katusabe.

But the committee ruled that, “Gen Elly Tumwine freely expressed his view in an informal meeting and never intended the contents of the discussion to be publicised or conveyed to third parties.”

The committee also recommended that “matters that arise out of informal or private discussions and engagements should be resolved in informal ways. Where colleagues seek to engage either the executive arm of government or Parliament on matters regarding their constituencies or the country at large, they should explore formal mechanisms that call for accountability and action in case of failure by the responsible officers.”

However, Gen Tumwine was faulted on assaulting Dokolo Woman MP, Ms Cecilia Ogwal.
The committee observed that given his experience and seniority both in Parliament and in the army, the minister’s conduct to a fellow senior colleague, was an embarrassment.

“Gen Tumwine’s attack on Ms Ogwal was a breach of privilege as a Member of Parliament has a right to debate on any matter on the floor of Parliament without fear of retaliation. The attack potentially has the effect of intimidating members from freely expressing themselves in debates on certain subjects,” Mr Ongalo said.

Ms Ogwal convinced Parliament and the committee that after reporting the General’s high handedness, Gen Tumwine confronted him and almost poked her eyes.

On this count, the committee implored parliament to have Gen Tumwine “reprimanded for breach of privilege of a Member of Parliament and for being disrespectful to Parliament.”

The House adopted the majority decision at the cost of a one man minority report presented by Mr Gaster Mugoya (Bukooli County North) which prayed for total exoneration of Gen Tumwine.

Arua Municipality MP Kasiano Wadri asked Gen Tumwine to respect his position and rank and apologise for attacking fellow MPs including the Speaker.

mkyeyune@ug.nationmedia.com

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