• Sun. Jan 29th, 2023

UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Parliament’s Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Discipline has recommended censuring the Minister of State for Housing, Persis Namuganza, after finding her guilty of contempt of the House and gross misbehavior.

“The Committee finds that the conduct and behavior of Hon Namuganza constitutes gross misconduct and misbehavior and is not befitting a Member of Parliament, more so a Minister. Being cognizant of the fact that Parliament approved her appointment as a Minister, recommends that the House invokes Article 118 (1) (b) of the Constitution and Rule 106 of Parliament rules to censure her,” reads the committee report, tabled before the house on Wednesday, November 30.

The report follows The Committee’s inquiry into allegations of misconduct leveled against Namuganza on July 13, 2022 by Bukooli Central MP, Solomon Silwany.

Hon Silwany raised a procedural matter on the floor of Parliament accusing Namuganza of taking to social media and television to criticize the operations of Parliament and to question the powers and integrity of the presiding officers to form Adhoc Committees.

This followed a report compiled by the Adhoc committee that investigated the giveaway of Nakawa-Naguru land which recommended that Namuganza step down as Minister for falsifying a presidential directive that led to the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) to allocate the land to some dubious investors.

Namuganza puportedly criticised the way the Adhoc committee handles people who appear before it, equating it to a torture chamber. According to Hon Silwanyi’s submission to the committee, Minister Namuganza had questioned the integrity of parliament through statements she made in a WhatsApp group of Members of the 11th Parliament.

The WhatsApp group administrators including the Communications and Public Affairs (CPA) Director of parliament, Chris Obore, the Acting Principle Information Officer, Charles Bukuwa, and the Deputy Assistant Editor, Moses Bwalatum corroborated Hon Silwanyi’s testimony.

Hon Silwany adduced evidence of printouts of the WhatsApp messages allegedly posted by Hon. Namuganza. Mr Chris Obore confirmed that Hon Namuganza posted the impugned messages, which were still on the WhatsApp group.

“The Committee further established from the records of Parliament that the telephone number from which the impugned messages originated belonged to Hon. Namuganza. Given the uncontroverted evidence of the WhatsApp messages, the committee finds that Hon Namuganza made the impugned statements on social media as alleged,” said the Committee Vice Chairperson, Charles Onen, who tabled the report.

Onen also told Parliament that his committee received evidence from Henry Maurice Kibalya, Bugabula South MP, of an article from the Daily Monitor newspaper dated May 22, 2022, with the heading, “Parliament has no powers to suspend me – Namuganza.”

“He alleged that in the said article, Namuganza was quoted as having stated in an interview with NTV Uganda regarding the Report of the Adhoc Committee on the Naguru-Nakawa that: ‘This report was misleading Members of Parliament, debating things, which they don’t know about and finally passing resolutions which they actually don’t know. On this basis, first of all, I belong to the executive and I know that they will have to forward the resolutions to the executive for confirmation, I’m sure the executive is sober and it will not act the way they acted.” quoted the committee.

Onen also disclosed that the committee viewed video recordings from the NTV interview, and are satisfied that Hon Namuganza made the statements attributed to her in the interview, and later reproduced in the Daily Monitor newspaper.

“The words used by Namuganza as defined implied that Parliament lacked understanding of what it was doing. That it passed a deceptive and biased report and that Parliament is comprised of unserious and drunk people who are not law-abiding in discharging their duties,” reads the committee report.

Onen told the House that the Minister’s statement undermined the authority and integrity of Parliament and brought the House and its members into disrepute. According to the report, the statements by Hon Namuganza were unfounded, baseless, malicious, demeaning, and contemptuous.

“The committee finds that, by making derogatory statements about Parliament, the conduct of Hon. Namuganza amounted to gross misconduct and misbehavior, and was an affront to Parliament’s dignity. It denigrated public trust and confidence in the authority and integrity of the office of the Speaker, its members, and the institution of Parliament. Her conduct was in breach of conduct for Members of Parliament as enumerated in the rules of procedure and constituted contempt of Parliament,” said Onen.

Thomas Tayebwa, the Deputy Speaker, deferred debate on the report to next week.

What is the Censure Process?

A “censure” is a formal, majority vote by parliament on a resolution disapproving a Member’s conduct.

If the Committee’s recommendation is adopted, MPs will invoke Article 118 of the Constitution and Rule 106 of Parliament rules to censure Namuganza. Article 118 provides for a vote of censure.

The support of more than half of all members of parliament is required to pass a vote in favor of censure against a Minister on grounds of abuse of office, misconduct or misbehavior, physical or mental incapacity, mismanagement, or incompetence. Therefore, out of the total 529 MPs in the 11th Parliament, a successful censure motion would require 176 signatures.

“Upon a vote of Censure being passed against a Minister, the President shall, unless the Minister resigns his or her office, take appropriate action in the matter,” reads part of the Constitution.

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