What you need to know:
- Legislators accuse the minister of undermining the operations of Parliament using social media and other channels.
Parliament’s Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Discipline has recommended censure of Ms Persis Namuganza, the State Minister for Housing, who is also the Bukono County MP.
The recommendation is part of a report that was read to the House on Wednesday by the committee’s deputy chairperson, Mr Charles Onen (Gulu East).
The report focused on the inquiry into allegations of misconduct and misbehaviour made against Ms Namuganza.
“The committee having found that the conduct of Ms Namuganza is not befitting of a Member of Parliament and a minister and being cognizant of the fact that Parliament approved her appointment as a minister, recommends that the House invokes Article 118 (1) (b) of the Constitution and Rule 106 of the Rules of Procedure to censure her,” Mr Onen said.
Article 118 (1) (b) of the Constitution states that Parliament may, by resolution supported by more than half of all MPs, pass a vote of censure against a minister on [given] grounds, including abuse of office or willful violation of the oath or allegiance or oath of office.
Similarly, Rule 106 of the Rules of Procedure notes that the House may pass a resolution for the removal of the President from office, or pass a vote of no confidence in the Speaker or the Deputy, or pass a vote of censure against a minister as prescribed by the Constitution or for the removal of a commissioner.
The investigation was conducted after a section of legislators in July accused her on the floor of Parliament of going to social media and other channels to undermine the operations of Parliament and questioning the powers and integrity of the House’s Adhoc Committee which faulted her for unlawfully manipulating the allocation of plots on the Nakawa-Naguru land.
The Deputy Speaker, Mr Thomas Tayebwa, who was presiding over the House that day referred the matter to the Rules Committee so that the state minister could be heard before a final decision was made.
As the probe kicked off, Ms Namuganza stated that she would not respond to claims she was not aware of since she had not been supplied with the evidence.
The minister added that since she had gone to court to challenge the committee’s hearing, the proceedings should not proceed.
Ms Namuganza argued that when a case is under sub judice (judicial consideration), the decorum stated it should not be discussed outside court.
Ms Namuganza’s fate is yet to be decided depending on whether the House will adopt the report or not.
A debate was not possible on Wednesday over the matter after Mr Tayebwa said it was only fair that they wait for their other colleagues to return from the East African Community Inter-Parliamentary games in Juba, South Sudan.
He promised to make a communication to the House next week to announce the date to conduct the debate.
Efforts to reach Ms Namuganza for a comment on the committee’s report were futile as she had not yet responded to our repeated calls by press time.
However, Mr Wilber Kayiwa, a lawyer attached to Crimson Associated Advocates, which has been representing her on the matter, told Daily Monitor yesterday their client will be able to give a definitive answer once the report has been debated and a final decision has been made by the House.
Several witnesses interfaced with the committee on the matter, including Mr Solomon Silwany (Bukooli County Central) who provided printouts of the messages allegedly posted by Ms Namuganza on the Parliament’s official WhatsApp group. “And these so-called Ad-hoc Committees all the time?? We have substantive Committees of Parliament, they should be the ones to handle matters that follow under their responsibilities, why Adhoc? As if they are hired to embarrass! Anyway, the matter is in Court for Judicial interpretation,” she allegedly wrote.
Mr Maurice Kibalya (Bugabula County South) tabled evidence of an article from Daily Monitor with the headline, “Parliament has no powers to suspend me - Namuganza” Based on the evidence, the committee was mostly convinced that Ms Namuganza made the WhatsApp defamatory statements, a behaviour that amounted to gross misconduct and undermining the integrity of Parliament, “and is not befitting of a Member of Parliament, more so a minister,” the report stated.