New EALA Speaker Could Be Elected in Few Weeks

Heads of state unhappy with current speaker Zziwa

Despite public protests from troubled EALA speaker Margret Nantongo Zziwa, sources within the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) say internal silent campaigns are going on among Ugandan EALA members to front a new candidate who will finish the remaining two and a half years on the term. In just a concluded EALA sitting in Kigali, members continued with their plot to oust the Speaker instead of focusing on productive issues that concern the regional citizens.

According to the EAC treaty, the Speaker can be removed if over two thirds of the member’s signs on the removal motion. However, before the Kigali sessions concluded on 30th October 31, the required number had signed on the paper. This means the Speaker could be out of her current position anytime soon.

Parliamentarians accuse their leader of poor governance and leadership, abuse of office, disrespect and intimidation of members and staff, deliberate breach of rules of procedures.

“The speaker is the root cause of the current paralysis of the activities of the EALA,” the motion to kick Zziwa out reads in part.

“President Museveni had earlier tried to shield her because she was from the NRM party, is a Catholic and a Muganda but now he is tired,” a source told The Independent in Kigali, “We expect in the next summit of heads of state, if she doesn’t resign before then, that a serious decision will be taken by presidents.”

The embattled Speaker, while addressing the media in Kigali late October categorically stated that she would not resign from her juicy position saying that if she is to resign then the whole House will have to be dissolved.

EALA is the second biggest organ of the East African Community and only this fiscal year was allocated US$15.4 million from the US$124 million allocated to the community. However with only two years and a half remaining, the House has only passed three Bills moreover one Bill coming from the council of ministers.

In the last two years, the House of 45 members from five countries has passed three bills on One Stop border post, Axle load, and Holidays Bill. This means that if they continue at the current rate, only five Bills might be passed in five years.

The second EALA that was headed by Abdirahin H. Abdi of Kenya ended with 30 Bills passed.

Unlike the previous EALA terms where members could convene and deliberate on outstanding issues that concerns the community, the current EALA is considered a failure and it has lost respect not only from the heads of state but also from the international donors because of the internal bickering, sources.

In the previous sittings every opening of the sitting had to be officially opened by a head of a state. However, under Zziwa things have changed and no president has addressed the sitting recently. This has been interpreted as a signal that even the heads of state are not happy with the regional House’s performance.

When members convene they always have a full package on the order paper for discussion but unfortunately they divert to other issues like misconduct of some members, ousting the speaker, enjoying milk tea, spiced juice, boiled chicken, going to sauna and receiving their sitting allowances.

During the Kigali sitting, it’s said US$1 million equivalent to over (Rwf 700 million) was spent in just two weeks yet nothing positive was discussed. This huge sum of money can construct a small feeder road in Kigali or in other part of the community to help facilitate trade and investment.

In every sitting, each member pockets over US$6500 as allowances over just two weeks.

People in the region are wondering why EALA continue to exist and misuse public funds without meaningful deliberations and outputs. However, sources say the heads of state need to intervene and rescue the community. For presidents to arbitrate meaningfully, they have to reign in disgruntled MPs from their countries, forcefully oust Speaker Zziwa, or allow the House to be dissolved.

In the next few weeks, EALA members will continue their rotational sittings in Nairobi Kenya and it’s said it might be Zziwa’s last session as the Speaker. Members have reported collected all the needed signatures to overthrow her.

If she survives this time, the heads of state summit still in Nairobi at the end of this November might not leave her in that position.

Meanwhile EALA MP Mukasa Mbidde, who is in the pro-Zziwa camp, has threatened to drag the House to East African Court of Justice seeking dissolution of the House. He says the continued moves to oust Zziwa are “cheating the regional citizens”.

“Majority of the members in the House don’t want the speaker and this has affected the performance of the House. We cannot continue cheating East Africans,” he said, “That’s why I’m going to petition in the East African court of Justice for the House to be dissolved.”

He noted that the Council of Ministers should be able to prepare a document that will be presented to the heads of state, and aise on what should be done to resolve the current upheavals in the House.

Four chairmen of different committees in the House have ready resigned and five members of Commissions tendered in their resignation letters during the Kigali sitting. This implies that even if the House convenes in Nairobi no business will be carried out.

An official who was attending the council of minister meeting in Kigali and preferred anonymity observed that dissolving the House and overthrowing the speaker was not enough. The official said all members should be dragged to court and should refund the money they have been spending.

“This is total corruption, theft and I think heads of state should help us and dissolve this House and members should be summoned by the court and return back the money they have been spending without doing anything.”

Source : The Independent

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