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EALA – Under-Fire Speaker Zziwa Runs to Museveni

The embattled speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, Margaret Zziwa, has reached out to President Museveni and Uganda’s representatives in an effort to kill off a censure bid against her.

Not assured of support from Kenyans and Tanzanians, EALA sources said, Zziwa approached some of Uganda’s representatives at the weekend and begged them to stand by her.

She was, however, yet to get their final assurance.

“She believes that if she can have the support of Ugandans, Rwandans and Burundians, she will defeat the censure,” an EALA member said.

So far, like we reported on Friday (see, EALA’s Zziwa faces censure), she is assured of support from only two Ugandan MPs, Mukasa Mbidde and Susan Nakawuki. She also has support among Rwandans and Burundians. She cannot bank on support from other Ugandan MPs like Dora Byamukama, Chris Opoka, Bernard Mulengani, Nusura Tiperu, Mike Sebalu and Dan Kidega.

The Observer has learnt, for instance, that if the censure succeeds, Sebalu is favoured to complete Zziwa’s term. A couple of weeks ago, Zziwa reached out to President Museveni and urged him to talk to his counterparts (Uhuru Kenyatta, Paul Kagame, Pierre Nkurunzinza and Jakaya Kikwete). She urged Museveni to convince the presidents to persuade their representatives to drop the censure.

Sources say the president was at first reluctant to intervene but later contacted Uhuru Kenyatta, the chairperson of the East African Community Heads of State summit. Museveni, according to the source, told some EALA members that some of their grievances against Zziwa were trivial and could be solved without resorting to censure. Museveni reportedly told them that as far as he understands the matter, there is “a small misunderstanding amongst some women” which should not bog down EALA.

Our sources told us that the women Museveni was referring to were Zziwa, Byamukama and Tiperu. We have been told that Kenyatta aised that the dispute should be settled amicably without removing Zziwa. But it now appears this aice was not taken. Zziwa’s troubles began in January, during the assembly’s meeting in Kampala, when she ordered the assembly’s clerk not to pay EALA legislators their full allowances.

Zziwa reportedly wanted to ensure that EALA representatives remained on duty for the entire two weeks they were supposed to be in Kampala. For that period, the representatives were entitled to at least Shs 20m each in allowances for accommodation, transport and other expenses.

Petition

More grievances against Zziwa have emerged according to details of the petition filed by Kenya’s Peter Mathuki and Uganda’s Dorah Byamukama last Thursday. Zziwa is accused of making key decisions including the one on rotational sittings, without consulting members.

The petitioners also say she has failed to delegate some of her duties. They say she endeavours to attend all functions, at the expense of crucial business, even where delegation would have worked. Zziwa is also accused of involving his spouse, Capt Francis Babu, in the affairs of EALA. They say sometimes she routes her communication through Babu, who is not a member of the assembly.

Another major grievance against Zziwa is that she disrespects members. The petitioners claim that she once referred to them as “adolescents” in the presence of Kenyatta, Kenya’s president.

Zziwa denied the allegations when The Observer contacted her by telephone on Saturday.

“Whatever I have done, I have always respected all members. But since they are mature people, they have a right to do what they want,” she said, declining to comment further.

For Zziwa to lose her office, at least 30 out of 44 MPs must vote in favour of the motion.

So far the picture looks grim and her realistic chance of survival, according to sources, remains the petition she filed in the East African Court of Justice, seeking a permanent injunction to prohibit and restrain the assembly from commencing procedures to censure her.

Source : The Observer

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