The Chairperson of the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline Abdul Katuntu has revealed that Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake Butebi will this Wednesday appear before members to defend himself.
The MP is accused of insulting the integrity of Parliament after he last week took to social media and used offensive language to express his dissatisfaction with the Deputy Speaker’s statement regarding his alleged torture.
Speaking earlier today, Katuntu said the committee will tomorrow interact with Bardege-Layibi Division MP Martin Ojara Mapenduzi who raised the matter of national importance, Soroti West Division MP, Jonathan Ebwalu, Amolatar Woman representative Agnes Atim Apea and Busia Municipality MP Geoffrey Macho who supported the motion.
“Hon Zaake will appear on Wednesday to give his account. He is free to come with a lawyer and he will be given change to defend himself. He is at the same time allowed to attend the meeting while other members appear before us and where needed, he will be granted a chance to ask them questions,” Katuntu said.
Raising the matter, Martin Mapenduzi said that he intended to move a motion to have Zaake relieved of his duties as a Commissioner for denigrating the integrity of Parliament and Office of the Speaker in breach of Rules 84 and 85 of the Rules of Procedure and Paragraph 5 of the Code of Conduct of Members.
“All of us may have our own emotions and issues to deal with but there are avenues in our Rules of Procedure through which anything done by the presiding officer can be challenged. The member never exercised any of the remedies provided in the rules but chose to go to social media,” Mapenduzi said.
The matter was supported by the Soroti West Division MP, Jonathan Ebwalu who said Zaake’s use of unparliamentary language on social media against the person of the Deputy Speaker was in bad faith and demeaned the office of the Speaker and institution of parliament.
“The intention was to damage; lower the character and status of the Speaker and the reputation of this Parliament. It is our obligation to defend Parliament from any attack. We need to enact laws to check cyber bullying, cyber harassment, blackmail and intimidation,” he said.
Esther Afoyochan, one of the Backbench commissioners disassociated herself from the social media utterances attributed to Zaake saying that the House should deal with the matter in accordance with the House’s prescribed guidelines.
Deputy Speaker, Anita Among referred the matter to the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline for further investigations.
“Our Constitution dictates a fair hearing before a decision is taken as we continue with other processes. I will therefore, guide that this matter be referred to the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline and the committee must report back within two weeks,” Among said.
She said that whereas under normal circumstances, she was supposed to step aside from presiding over a matter that involves her personality, she had to do so because the Speaker is still indisposed.
Rule 110 of the Rules of Procedure states that a Member of the Commission, other than the Speaker or the Leader of Government Business, Leader of the Opposition or the Minister of finance may be removed from office by Parliament for incompetence, misconduct insanity or inability to perform the functions of his or her office arising from infirmity of body or mind.
Under sub rule 2, a motion for a resolution for the removal of a Commissioner shall be initiated by a notice in writing to the Clerk, signed by not less than one third of all the voting Members of Parliament indicating their intention for moving the motion for the removal.
Under sub rule 6, a Commissioner shall be removed upon the vote of at least half of all voting Members of Parliament.
Meanwhile over 215 signatures have been collected to impeach Zaake.