Zziwa Wants NRM to Tame EALA Members

Faced with a fresh censure plot by members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), speaker Margaret Zziwa’s camp is considering asking the NRM for help. The Observer has established that Zziwa wants President Museveni to invoke his powers as NRM chairman to rein in his defiant EALA members.

“If they go on and append their signatures on the current petition, we hope the president, as chairman of the NRM, will cause for disciplinary action against them for defying his directives to them,” said Fred Mukasa Mbidde, Zziwa’s lawyer.

Mbidde (DP) and Susan Nakawuki (independent) are the only Ugandan EALA members backing Zziwa. Six of Uganda’s nine EALA representatives were elected on the NRM ticket but, in the ongoing clash at the regional parliament, none of them is on Zziwa’s side. The Observer has learnt that Museveni has previously made at least four futile attempts to reconcile Zziwa and Uganda’s representatives.

Museveni engaged the EALA representatives early this year, when they first plotted to censure Zziwa. Although his focus was mainly the nine Ugandan representatives to the assembly, Museveni was forced to call chairpersons of the EALA chapters and commissioners in a desperate move to save Uganda’s interests.

The chapter chairpersons are Bernard Mulengani (Uganda), Christine Hagyabakiga (Rwanda), Jeromy Ngendakumana (Burundi), Ombasa Kiangoi (Kenya) and Adam Kimbisa (Tanzania). The assembly’s commission is comprised of 10 commissioners with each of the five member states represented by two commissioners.

The charges:

The last engagement, according to our sources, took place at State House, Entebbe, late in May before the East African Court of Justice blocked the process to remove Zziwa. According to a source, it is in this meeting that Museveni invited the assembly’s chapter chairpersons and commissioners and held them at Entebbe till about 3am.

Museveni also invited NRM Chief Whip Justine Kasule Lumumba to give a pep talk to the regional legislators.

“The meeting had been scheduled for 6pm but we were kept waiting until about 10pm after we had been served supper,” an EALA member told us.

From that time up to about 2am, Museveni met the group without Zziwa and her lawyer Fred Mukasa Mbidde, who is one of Uganda’s representatives. During those four hours, the duo was kept waiting in one of the State House rooms.

“The president pleaded with us to forgive Zziwa for the sake of the country’s interests but, under the current circumstances, I doubt whether we can go by his counsel,” an EALA MP who did not want to be named told The Observer on Friday.

During the meetings, Museveni is reported to have pleaded with the legislators to forgive Zziwa, at one point terming their charges against her as “childish and rubbish.”

Among the issues being aanced against the speaker is failure to maintain cohesion in the assembly, favouritism in recruitment of staff, organising the inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) meeting outside the assembly’s budget and failure to act on genocide issues, among others. During the last meeting at Entebbe, Zziwa denied all the charges, telling Museveni that the IPU meeting was organised out of a decision by the EALA commission.

To understand Zziwa’s explanation clearly, Museveni asked Lumumba to make a comparison for him on the workings of the Ugandan Parliament in relation to meetings such as the IPU.

When Lumumba told him that Parliamentary budgets are handled by the Parliamentary commission, not the speaker, Museveni warned the legislators not to push on with the plot.

“Some of you have chances of being good leaders but with this move, you are squandering your chances like Obote,” Museveni reportedly said.

Museveni went as far as lobbying his fellow presidents to talk to their members at the assembly but all indications are that his efforts were in vain.

“Museveni did everything humanly possible to intervene as a fountain of honour and I appreciate the role he played [with hope to see] that these issues are amicably resolved but I think at the moment, there is nothing he can do,” Nusura Tiperu, one of the lead petitioners, told The Observer on Friday.

Mbidde, who has threatened to petition to EAC Secretariat to dissolve EALA, said the new motion of censure is unlikely to succeed due to a recent ruling by the East African Court of Justice. The court ruled that Rule 9 of the EALA Rules of Procedures, which provides the guidelines on the removal of the speaker, is “incompetent” and, therefore, cannot be used as a basis for censuring the speaker.

Source : The Observer

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