By Leonard Mulinda
Red Haircrow asserts that;
“You don’t have to disrespect and insult others simply to hold your own ground. If you do, that shows how shaky your own position is”
This particular description suits troubled Bukono County MP also State Minister for Housing, Hon.Persis Namuganza.As her censure motion gains momentum, it’s only God who can help her save face short of which her ejection from cabinet is more of a foregone conclusion.To a keen observer of how political events unfold in our country, previous censure motions have succeeded under the ruling party’s watch. For the record, parliament has since 1998 censured two Ministers to wit Hon. Jim Katugugu Muhwezi (1998) and Hon. Sam Kahamba Kutesa (1999) and forced five Ministers to resign after collecting the required signatures to censure them. Those who resigned include Late Al-hajj Ali Muwabe Kirunda Kivejinja (Transport, Works and Communication in 1997), Late Mathew Rukikaire (Planning in 1999), Hajjati Syda Bumba (Gender in 2012), Princess Kabakumba Matsiko (Presidency in 2011) and Prof. Khidu Makubuya (Office of the Prime Minister in 2011)
To Namuganza, it’s a matter of time for her d-day to come. Even Papa as she refers to her party Chairman-President Museveni seems pre-occupied with other engagements to interest himself in the current happenings yet the latter prefers parliament more than the former as regards pushing the legislative agenda.
The mover of the motion, Agago North Member of Parliament, Hon. Amos Okot, on December 9, moved the motion to censure the Minister over misconduct after Parliament adopted the report of the Rules, Privileges and Discipline Committee, which found her guilty of misconduct, making derogatory statements about Parliament and abuse of office in the allocation of the Nakawa-Naguru land.
Rule 109 (7) of the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure dictates that a Motion of Censure shall be placed on the Order Paper for debate the next working day as soon as the Speaker receives a petition from the Clerk notifying the Presiding officer that the required number of MPs-one third- have signed in support of the motion. Rule 109(5) gives the clerk 24 hours to notify the Speaker.
“Upon receipt of the proposed Petition, grounds and the particulars supporting the grounds and supporting signatures, the Speaker shall cause the proposed Petition to be placed on the Order Paper for the next working day during which the Chief Petitioner shall formally move the Censure Motion and lay all supporting documents on the Table and each document so laid shall be endorsed by the Clerk,” it states.
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, misconduct or misbehavior among others.
Section 2 of the same article states the processes to follow if parliament votes to censure a minister.
“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,” it indicates.
In her second term of office, the troubled Minister has a history of taking on Speakers in the August House.She ruthlessly troubled the ousted 10th Parliament Speaker, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga and went a notch higher to stand for the position of NRM’s 2nd National Vice Chairperson which the former occupies to date. That is how over ambitious and provocative Namuganza is.
All indications are that majority of the MPs in the 11th Parliament have had enough of her melodrama and they want her censured by hook or crook. Several MPs accuse her of failing to honor the principle of separation of powers between the three arms of government generally in addition to her stubborn character.
Relatedly,many MPs treasure the current cohesion within the house where both the Speaker and her Deputy are doing well to promote team work, unity of purpose and address the general concerns of the people they represent.
Indeed the two hold a strong grip on parliamentary management. Several bills have been attended too and assented to by the fountain of honor. Many MPs are being offered trips that come with exposure yet the floor of parliament has been eased for all MPs to articulate issues affecting their constituents.
Minister Namuganza trivializes her current predicament by being subjective instead of objectivity. In her submission during plenary that debated and adopted the report baying for her censure, Namuganza, who speaks with a lot of local accent claimed that her troubles are to do with the marriage between the Speaker and FUFA President also MP Budiope East, Hon. Eng. Moses Harshim Magogo. She wishes to move a motion against the Speaker and Eng. Magogo for whom she accuses of reportedly procuring a fraudulent marriage. In an interview with one of the Media houses, she referred to her current husband also former Makindye Division Town Clerk, Geoffrey Rwakabale.
“Among has a personal interest in this.She procured a fraudulent marriage with the so-called husband;you know a husband is defined legally.They went and attacked my husband because he is a civil servant and forced him to sign papers. They were not there [physically]; they sent their security team and they made him sign under duress.And after what happened, he reported to security and rescinded the marriage,” she said, adding, “They sent several people intimidating him that he must sign to retract the papers that were rescinding the marriage. We have brought the matter to the attention of the president, and he directed CID to investigate. My husband has already made a statement, but she [speaker] has been sending messages intimidating him, saying how I’m going to punish your wife, and we have proof,” Namuganza said.
In March 2022, the August House constituted an ad hoc committee of Nine members led by Kazo MP Hon. Dan Kimosho to investigate the Nakawa-Naguru land allocations after receiving complaints of corruption among others.
The committee found out that several government big shots not limited to Ministers had participated in the fraudulent allocation of land. For Namuganza, who was the minister of state for lands at the time, the committee found that she ordered the dubious give-away of public land.
The committee recommended that Namuganza be held accountable for abuse of office. They asked the President, who is Namuganza’s appointing authority to order her to temporarily step aside to allow the Inspectorate of Government to investigate the matter. Parliament through the Speaker asked the executive to implement the report by compelling Namuganza to step aside.
Incensed not only by the committee report but also by its recommendations, Namuganza said parliament had been misled. In an interview with a local media house, she also reiterated that the recommendation for her removal from office was at variance with the law.
Hon.Thomas Tayebwa, the deputy speaker, referred Namuganza to the Rules, Privileges, and Discipline Committee, chaired by Bugweri County MP Abdul Katuntu. The committee report released recently found Namuganza guilty of undermining parliament and its Presiding officers.
“The committee notes that the right to freedom of expression is not absolute and according to Article 43 of the Constitution, the right must be exercised in cognizance with the rights and freedoms of others or in the public interest.
Accordingly, the right to freedom of speech and expression must be balanced against the need to maintain the authority of and public trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament.
From the evidence presented to it, Hon. Namuganza made the impugned statements on social media as alleged by Hon. Silwany and corroborated by the testimonies of Hon. Sarah Opendi, Hon. Elijah Okupa, and the “Admins of the 11th Parliament Official WhatsApp Group. The evidence on record further supports the assertion by Hon. Kibalya Henry Maurice that Hon. Namuganza made derogatory statements about Parliament during a television interview with NTV Uganda regarding the report of the Naguru-Nakawa land allocations,” the report reads in part.
According to the report, Namuganza’s posts on the parliamentary WhatsApp group questioned the selection of ad hoc committees, yet there are other committees that are vested with the responsibility of handling the very issues that are being given to them.
What I am emphasizing with colleagues is that it is very bad to just be used to fight each other. We still have a long way to go, even after the Parliament. You need to study a matter yourself and decide without being influenced to fight a colleague…The powerful committee wouldn’t even find time to go and interact with H.E. himself? … 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 fall under their responsibilities. As if they are hired to embarass…All this is done in bad faith; you can continue and defend it the way you want because you are a member but this must stop… All members of parliament come to these parliamentary committees. We shall raise a point of order if another ad hoc committee is formed,” Namuganza allegedly wrote.
In her NTV interview that also rubbed the MPs the wrong way, Namuganza questioned the legality of the parliamentary resolutions and the truthfulness of the report.
“This report was misleading members of parliament, debating things which they don’t know about and finally passing resolutions, which they don’t know. On this basis, first, I belong to the executive, and I know that they will have to forward the resolutions to the executive for confirmation, and I’m sure the executive is sober and will not act the way they acted,”
Bugiri Municipality MP Hon. Asuman Basalirwa said Namuganza got a rope and hanged herself when she thought she could fight everybody in parliament and win.
“If she goes and says that ad hoc committees of parliament are useless, of course, that is contempt. The 10th parliament almost censured Namuganza; why don’t you ask yourself why? She made similar comments against Rebecca Kadaga [the then speaker]; so, is everybody witch-hunting her? Whether there is a personal interest or not for me as a lawyer, I’m interested in what the rules say. I was not the author of the rules,” Basalirwa said.
The censure motion was pinned on the parliamentary notice board and its being championed by Agago North MP Hon. John Amos Okot and his Ntungamo Municipality counterpart Hon. Yona Musinguzi.
Sources say Namuganza is a serial fighter of speakers, allegedly facilitates bloggers to malign fellow leaders and from the look of things, her impunity involves members of the deep state.
It should be noted that during the NRM CEC elections, Namuganza, who calls Kadaga auntie accused the latter of betraying both President Museveni and the NRM party.
Being labeled a traitor and enemy of the President usually means that one is headed for obliteration at least politically. And most observers feared that Kadaga was set for a turbulent election ride although she later triumphed. According to results declared by the NRM Electoral Commission Chairman Dr Tanga Odoi, Kadaga scored 7,045 votes against Namuganza’s 4,153 votes.
In a nutshell, with due processes being followed to the dot, the stakes are higher than never before but glaringly the presiding officer is holding the bull with a shorter rope with the sole intent to hit harder and last to the motor mouthed encumbered Busoga Princess. For now, no amount of luck whatsoever can redeem the Minister.
The Minister had all the time to redeem her predicament but she ended up acting funny even when Premier Nabbanja pleaded with her to save face making it inevitable for parliament to apply the overdrive gear. It’s on record that the Presiding officer at the August House rarely looses a battle she engages in. It’s more of a litmus test for the Minister on how to engage the soft-spoken Bukedea Woman MP whose following in parliament is unrivalled.
Leonard Mulinda,is a graduate student of International Relations and Diplomatic Studies at Makerere University
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