President Museveni to cast die on Namuganza

Combo: President Museveni (L) and Lands minister Persis Namuganza (R). PHOTOS/ FILE 

What you need to know:

  • While the majority of the lawmakers had expected to vote on the matter, Mr Thomas Tayebwa, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, guided that they had to write to the President first as per the Constitution.

Nearly half of all Members of Parliament appended their signatures in support of the motion to censure embattled Lands minister Persis Namuganza.
While tabling the censure motion on Friday, Mr Amos Okot (Agago North County), the mover, said 259 MPs out of more than 500 with voting rights had signed by Friday afternoon. 
While the majority of the lawmakers had expected to vote on the matter, Mr Thomas Tayebwa, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, guided that they had to write to the President first as per the Constitution.

“This motion, according to article 118, clause 5, is not subject to debate. After receiving this motion in the House, within 72 hours, I have to write to the President  to inform his minister that Parliament intends to censure her, clearly showing the grounds, signatures  and supporting documents,” Mr Tayebwa informed the legislators.
Article 118 lays out the grounds and procedure of removing one from a ministerial position.

Section 2 states: “Upon a vote of censure being passed against a minister, the President shall, unless the minister resigns his or her office, take appropriate action in the matter… The President shall, upon receipt of the petition, cause a copy of it to be given to the minister in question.”
Mr Tayebwa also rejected a motion by Mr Barnabas Tinkasimire (Buyaga West County) to suspend rule 109 (7) of the Parliament Rules of Procedure that also mandates Parliament to inform the President before voting on the motion. Mr Tayebwa argued that this could give Ms Namuganza ground for defence in future if the proper procedures are not followed.

‘Has to pay a price’
In a half full House on the last sitting of Parliament before Christmas break, Mr Okot accused Ms Namuganza of misbehaviour, misconduct and refusing to understand Parliament works. He further accused her of lying in the name of the President in the letter allocating parcels of land in the Nakawa-Naguru estate. 

“Namuganza made statements about Parliament in the media; attacking Parliament, questioning the powers of Parliament, the integrity of presiding officers of Parliament and imputing improper motives to Parliament and its presiding sing officers,” he said.
He added: “The statements made were derogatory and were found by Parliament to amount to gross misconduct and misbehaviour, an affront to the dignity of Parliament, denigrated public trust and confidence in the authority and integrity of the office of the Speaker [and] MPs.” 
Mr Okot termed actions by Ms Namuganza to be contrary to the lawmakers’ Code of Conduct, further describing her as arrogant as she refused to apologise.

The motion was seconded by Mr Dan Kimosho (Kazo County), Mr Gilbert Olanya (Kilak South) and Ms Everlyn Chemutai (Bukwo Woman MP)
“I am an advocate of dignity and decorum. Why I am even more convinced on this motion is that the person in question is not a first time offender. Analysing her history in previous Parliament and with previous supervisors, this person is a perpetual offender and it is right that we put her in her place,” Mr Kimosho, who chaired the adhoc committee investigations into the Nakawa-Naguru land controversy, said.

Laying down a marker
Mr  Olanya said of Ms Namuganza: “She has taken a long time to be censured. The 10th Parliament would have dealt with her, but she has been lucky. As Parliament, we deal with big issues. We are not censuring her because of personal and individual differences with other members, but her conduct as minister. If we leave her as minister, Africa will laugh at Uganda.”
Ms Chemutai also supported the motion, saying: “The minister (Namuganza) is my friend and I am a peace-loving Ugandan. I expected her to do the right things. When she insulted the Speaker, it was an insult to the whole House. If the problem was about land, she shouldn’t have gone personal to attack the family of our boss.”

Mr Tayebwa also moved to answer questions into the priority the motion was given ahead of what Ugandans on social media thought were more pressing issues.
“Yesterday, the Clerk [to Parliament] served me and within 24 hours, according to our rules, I had to call the House and ensure the issue is on the paper. These are matters of the law. It is not my discretion. I could say I wait after Christmas or after a year. I follow the timelines,” he said.

Long process
 A fortnight after the tabling of the motion, a Select Committee will be instituted to investigate the matter where Ms Namuganza will then be given an opportunity to file her defence. 
It is against the findings of this committee, after 30 days from Friday, that lawmakers will vote upon as provided for in article 118.   
This matter has already been investigated by two committees-an ad-hoc committee instituted by Speaker Anita Among and headed by Mr Kimosho, who seconded yesterday’s motion.
The Parliament Committee on Rules also investigated the matter, with both recommending the censure.