Suspended for 21 days, the under fire speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Margaret Zziwa, has warned that she will seek protection from the East African Court of Justice if President Museveni fails to come to her defence.
Zziwa was suspended last week as speaker on the coat-tails of a censure motion filed by Peter Mathuki, a Kenyan MP, and sponsored largely by Ugandan MPs who accuse Zziwa of “abuse of office” and “poor leadership skills.”
The motion is signed by 34 out of the 45 EALA MPs. Zziwa was replaced by Chris Opoka-Okumu, a Ugandan MP. Sources close to Zziwa say she has instructed her lawyers, Kampala Associated Aocates, to file a fresh suit against her tormenters.
Zziwa, according to our sources, has given President Museveni up to Friday to show his hand in the controversy that has paralysed business in Arusha, headquarters of the assembly. Zziwa’s ultimatum follows Museveni’s aice to her to withdraw all suits she had filed at the East African court in a bid to block her censure.
“Museveni aised Zziwa to withdraw all cases she had in court, which she did and they are now giving Museveni up to Friday to pronounce himself on where he stands in this fracas at EALA,” a source said on Wednesday.
“Should he [Museveni] fail to do so, they are ready to go to back to court and the speaker is carrying out consultations on this matter,” a source added.
Richard Sezibera, the secretary general of the East African Community, and Uganda’s minister of state for East African Community Affairs, Shem Bageine, who Zziwa blames for her woes, would be the main target of the fresh legal battle, according to a source close to the speaker.
John Jet Tumwebaze, one of Zziwa’s lawyers, confirmed to us that they intend to file a suit but he denied that they had given the president an ultimatum.
“We have not given the president an ultimatum because the president is the fountain of honour and making a decision is his discretion,” he said by telephone.
“But we intend to challenge all illegalities in court because the speaker withdrew all cases she had in court promptly on the aice of the president after the other people had hoodwinked him [president] that she [Zziwa] should withdraw cases first,” he said.
Zziwa has vowed not to heed summons by the EALA Legal, Rules and Privileges committee, chaired by Dora Byamukama, her rival in the acrimonious election that she won.
“They have summoned the speaker to appear before the committee on Tuesday, but we shall block it from court,” Zziwa’s lawyer Tumwebaze said.
“She will not appear she has instructed us to appear there and tell them that what they are doing is illegal,” he added.
Addressing a news conference on Tuesday, Zziwa, flanked by Godfrey Kiwanda (Mityana North MP) and Buganda caucus chairman, Bukomansimbi’s Deo Kiyingi and Suzan Nakawuki, said she would not appear before the Byamukama-led committee.
“… we have rules of procedure at EALA and they dictate that the speaker shall appear before the legal committee, but what is taking place at EALA is an illegality, I am not going to be part of that illegality,” Zziwa said.
“I will not go there because I will give it [committee] legitimacy if they want me to appear there, they should do it through proper channels,” she added.
Meanwhile, Zziwa dismissed as false claims that her husband Capt Francis Babu is part of the mess at EALA.
“The allegations against my husband are [stupid] because he has never sat in the speaker’s chair to conduct business as they say,” she said.
She said the fracas at EALA points to a “lack of nationalism among Ugandans”.
She said the six NRM legislators who are hounding her in defiance of President Museveni’s order are undisciplined. Five of the nine Ugandan MPs, namely Dora Byamukama, Benard Mulengani, Dan Kidega, Nusura Tiperu [all belonging to NRM] and their colleague Chris Opoka [UPC] signed the censure motion.
Source : The Observer