Former EALA Speaker Margaret Zziwa

The Appellate Division of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) started session this Tuesday, and among the issues to be determined is one of the former EALA Speaker against the EAC Secretary General for wrongful dismissal, scheduled for May 25.

In the two-week sessions the Court will handle 13 matters in total; five scheduling conferences, four hearings and two judgments including Zziwa’s.

The matters are before Justices Dr Emmanuel Ugirashebuja (President of the Court), Liboire Nkurunziza (Vice-President), Justice Edward Rutakangwa, Aaron Ringera and Geoffrey Kiryabwire.

Among other cases to be heard are two arbitration disputes; one by the Winglink Travel Limited Vs the Secretary General of the East African Community. It will be up for a scheduling conference on May 22. The second Arbitration matter is by Kati General Enterprise Vs the Agriculture Fisheries and Food Authority (Pyrethrum Processing Co. of Kenya Ltd) to be heard on May 17 by Justice Dr Emmanuel Ugirashebuja (Chair), Justice Edward Rutakangwa and Justice Aaron Ringera.

The two judgments to be delivered on May 24 and May 25 include an Appeal by the East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum Vs the Republic of Burundi and that of Dr Zziwa, who was impeached by EALA legislators in December 2014 for alleged misconduct.

In February 2016, the Court allowed Dr. Zziwa to proceed with her case challenging her dismissal as Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).

This followed a ruling in which the court, then sitting in Arusha, Tanzania, could not buy an application in which the EAC Secretary General had sought to block Dr Zziwa from suing EALA for what she said wrongfully and unlawfully removing her from the office of the speaker of the House.

“We find that the application is misconceived, incompetent and improperly before this court and; do hereby strike it out under the rule of this court. We have also found that the affidavit supporting the defective application to have been scandalous and distressing on account of its falsehoods,” the court ruled at the time.

Article 32 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, provides arbitral jurisdiction to the Court to hear and determine any matter arising from arbitration clauses or Special agreements. The Court arbitrates any dispute at no cost. So far the Court has received three arbitration matters. One has been determined and two still in progress.