Members of Parliament have voted to force their Mityana Municipality counterpart, Francis Zaake out of the Parliamentary Commission office, accusing him of making disparaging remarks against the Deputy Speaker, Anita Among.
A report of the committee on rules, privileges and discipline chaired by Bugweri County MP, Abdu Katuntu found Zaake guilty of using insulting Among in total breach of the House rules of procedure and code of conduct.
The Katuntu report said that Zaake’s conduct while using his social media accounts left the Office of the Speaker and the institution of Parliament in disrepute and damaged public trust.
A total of 155 MPs voted against Zaake by secret ballot while only 4 MPs voted in his favor and two of the votes were invalid.
The motion for the removal of Zaake was initially moved by Bardege-Layibi Division MP, Ojara Mapenduzi but the matter was referred to the Katuntu committee for further investigation.
Zaake appeared in the committee investigating him only once but while he neither denied nor admitted the statements attributed to him, went ahead to accuse Among of mocking his plight when he was tortured by security agencies during a plenary sitting, bias and witch-hunt but thereafter, shunned the committee, questioning its ability to fairly judge him.
During the debate of the committee report that went on into the dead of the night, Rukiga County MP, Roland Ndyomugyenyi proposed an amendment to Katuntu’s recommendations to include a proposal that Zaake should leave the office of Commissioner of Parliament.
He said that Zaake leaving the Parliament Commission would dignify Parliament.
Last month During a plenary session to honor MPs and staff who had participated in the East African Legislative Assembly Games in Arusha, Tanzania, Among chided Zaake for winning a gold medal despite claiming that he had previously suffered bodily harm caused by State-inspired torture.
In retaliation, Zaake is said to have taken to his Facebook and Twitter accounts where he made a statement questioning Among’s integrity and intellectual capabilities.
In his report, Katuntu said that Zaake did not protect the integrity of Parliament but instead his conduct brought the entire Parliament and its leadership into disrepute.
He added that Zaake’s statements lowered the esteem of the institution of Parliament in the eyes of the citizens who ought to look up to their Leaders.
“Following an evaluation of the submissions and evidence, the committee observes that Hon. Zaake did not take steps as provided in the Rules of Procedure to challenge the words of the Presiding Officer which allegedly led him to post the impugned social media posts. This is clearly so upon examining his statements made to the committee,” he said in his report.
However, Butambala District Woman MP, Aisha Kabanda, presented a minority report challenging the findings of Katuntu and instead recommending reconciliation between the parties involved in the matter for smooth running of Parliament and avoidance of unnecessary tension.
She also raised the matter of the Parliament presiding officers chairing sessions where they could be conflicted.
“We recommend that Parliament amends the law to provide for a panel of presiding officers in situations where both Speaker and Deputy Speaker could be either indisposed or conflicted,” she said.
The Leader of the Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga proposed that the House handle the report of the committee without the amendment but his efforts were futile.
Moments before the voting, some members of the Opposition to which Zaake belongs, led by Mpuuga exited the chamber.
In a rather celebratory mood, Among said in addition to sealing Zaake’s fate, the accused should as well tender an apology on the floor of Parliament in a week’s time.