Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake.
Mityana Municipality Member of Parliament, Francis Zaake has through his lawyers questioned the jurisdiction of the ongoing probe into his conduct.
This is in line with the investigations by the Rules, Privileges and Discipline committee is investigating Zaake for the alleged misconduct and use of unparliamentary language on the directive of the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among.
It all started when the Bardege-Layibi Division MP Martin Ojara Mapenduzi raised a matter of national importance and proposed to move a motion for Zaake’s removal from the parliamentary commission, the top most organ of the house.
He said that Zaake was acting in breach of the code of conduct for Member of Parliament particularly a requirement to conduct themselves in a manner, which will maintain and strengthen the public trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament.
“…last week, the nation woke up to a rant by a Member of this House, a Commissioner of Parliament, the honourable Zaake Francis through his known social media handles where he insulted the integrity of this House and above all, the integrity of the Office of the Speaker,” Mapenduzi said in relation to a tweet posted by Zaake.
Mapenduzi said that Zaake’s conduct is likely to bring the House into disrepute.
Zaake appeared before the Rules Committee together with his lawyers Eron Kiiza and Benjamin Katana on Monday. He challenged the jurisdiction of the committee to investigate matters that allegedly happened outside the precincts of parliament.
Zaake told the committee that he believes the allegations against him are malicious, unfounded and in bad faith. He described the ongoing committee proceedings as unfair to him because they are borne out of an incurable conflict of interest.
“To understand why I say so, please consider this context: On the 8th of February 2022, I was shocked and deeply hurt when the RT. Hon. Deputy Speaker made a very cruel joke about me as a torture victim. That day as she presided over a debate about the rampant torture of citizens by security forces, Rt. Hon. Anita Among stated ‘Much as Hon. Zaake was tortured –as you have said – he was able to win a gold medal in athletics with a broken leg,” Zaake to MPs.
The Parliamentary Commissioner added that the comments of the Deputy Speaker Among are on Hansard.
Zaake further told the committee that it is also on account of his alleged response to Among that his colleagues especially from the ruling party are now mobilizing themselves into a vicious mob to lynch him on the floor of parliament in a session that will be presided over by the same Deputy Speaker, regardless of the outcome of the committee proceedings.
He also says that he was already found guilty of the allegations even before the matter first came to the floor of parliament since the security detail that he is entitled to as a Commissioner of Parliament was unceremoniously withdrawn without any explanation on February 11th, 2021.
His lawyer, Eron Kiiza also questioned the jurisdiction of the committee to entertain a matter regarding the social media comments of a legislator. He requested that they be accorded the opportunity to make submissions on the question of jurisdiction in two days’ time in the interest of fairness.
Benjamin Katana said that the issue of jurisdiction has a huge bearing on the proceedings of the committee. Abdu Katuntu, the committee Chairperson advised the lawyers to address themselves to the rules of procedure of parliament as they raise the issue of jurisdiction.
Katuntu then gave the lawyers only one day to make submissions as to why the committee has no jurisdiction. He also asked the lawyers to limit their legal submissions to the Constitution. Medard Lubega Sseggona, the Busiro East MP however said that the committee should not restrict witnesses who want to present the committee with the material.
Katuntu then agreed with Sseggona but emphasized that Article 94 of the Constitution, the Parliament Rules of Procedure and specifically Appendix F addresses the code of conduct of a Member of Parliament.
The Committee is now scheduled to interface with Zaake on Wednesday when his lawyers will make submissions on the issue of jurisdiction and receive a ruling.