KAMPALA – MPs seeking to censure Minister of State for Housing, Persis Namuganza have acquired the mandatory 176 signatures.
Agago North MP, John Okot Amos, with the secondment of Ntungamo Municipality MP Yona Musinguzi wrote to the Clerk to Parliament last week, expressing their intention to move a motion of censure against the Minister on grounds of misconduct and misbehaviour.
This prompted the Clerk to Parliament, Adolf Mwesige to display the motion for a resolution of parliament to censure the Minister on the parliament notice board, a step that put into force the collection of signatures from MPs in support of the motion.
Article 118 of the Constitution provides that Parliament may, by resolution supported by more than half of all members, pass a vote of Censure against a Minister on grounds of abuse of office, misconduct or misbehaviour, physical or mental incapacity, mismanagement, or incompetence.
“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.
On the other hand, Parliament’s Rules of Procedure provides for the Vote of Censure Process against Ministers and requires any member desirous of moving this motion to notify the Clerk in writing of his or her intention, citing the ground for the proposed censure motion and giving detailed particulars supporting such grounds.
“The Clerk shall, within three days upon receipt of the notice of censure notify Parliament by causing the notice, the ground, and particulars supporting the ground of proposed censure motion to be pinned on the Members’ notice board. The Clerk shall on the date and time of pinning the notice of censure cause to be prepared and deposited with the Sergeant-at-Arms, for a period of ten working days, a list of all MPs with an open space against each name for purposes of appending signatures,” the rules read in part.
The rules require that any signature appended to the list shall not be withdrawn and after at least one-third of the MPs have appended their signatures in support of the proposed censure, the Sergeant-at-Arms shall forward the list to the Clerk. Out of the total 529 MPs in the 11th Parliament, the movers of the censure motion require a total of 176 signatures for it to make it to the order paper.
Chris Obore, the Parliament Director for Communication and Public Affairs confirmed that the motion had already acquired 176 signatures as more MPs continued to express their support towards the motion.
“By yesterday (Tuesday), the mandatory number of 176 had been reached. Currently, the petitioners are still looking even for more signatures. The petitioners want as many signatures as they can mobilise. The final number will be communicated after the collection process closes,” revealed Obore, adding that if the petitioners were interested in the mandatory number, they would have submitted the collected signatures to the Clerk.
“They are still collecting. When they finish the process, we shall know how many signed. No step provided in the rules will be skipped as far as the process is concerned,” he added.
According to the rules of procedure, the Clerk will receive a report from the Sergeant-at-Arms regarding the signatures collected and in turn report to the Speaker, who will then cause the motion to be listed on the Order Paper for a Parliament debate and a final vote.
Parliament sanctioned the proposed censure of Namuganza last week after MPs adopted a report by the Rules, Privileges and Discipline Committee recommending the same. The report followed an inquiry into allegations of misconduct levelled against Namuganza, who also doubles as the Bukono County MP by his Bukooli Central counterpart, Solomon Silwany on July 13, 2022.
Silwany accused Namuganza of using social media and television to criticise the operations of Parliament and questioning the powers and integrity of the presiding officers of Parliament to form Adhoc Committees. Her comments against parliament came after another report compiled by the Adhoc committee that investigated the giveaway of Nakawa-Naguru land, which recommended that Namuganza steps aside as Minister for falsifying a presidential directive that led to the Uganda Land Commission -ULC to allocate the land to some investors.
But Namuganza reportedly questioned the way investors and people who appear before parliamentary committees are handled, equating the process to a torture chamber. In the subsequent probe, the committee found that statements by Namuganza were unfounded, baseless, malicious, demeaning, and contemptuous.
Charles Onen, the Rules Committee Vice Chairperson, said that Namuganza’s conduct and behaviour were not befitting of a Member of Parliament – more so a Minister.
Namuganza has since claimed that the action to censure her was the brainchild of Speaker Annet Anita Among and her boyfriend – Moses Magogo.
“They (Speaker and husband) went and attacked my husband because he is a civil servant and forced him to sign papers of their marriage.
“They made him sign the marriage certificate under duress and after all that happened, he reported to security and receded the marriage. She (Speaker) sent several people to intimidate him,” claimed Namuganza.
She explained that this matter of intimidating her husband was brought to the attention of president Yoweri Museveni who instructed the CID headquarters to investigate the issue.
“My husband has already made statements but she (Speaker) has been sending rascals to intimidate him, saying how she was going to (deal with me.) The Parliamentary leadership wants to create fear and intimidation among the members of Parliament so that they don’t say anything, “she noted.
In September this year, a former Makindye Division Town Clerk, who receded the registration of the marriage of Among and Magogo – Budiope East petitioned the Inspector General of Police -IGP Martin Okoth Ochola, alleging ‘threats to his life.’
Geoffrey Rwakabale, claimed that unknown individuals had trailed him and believed the exercise of his powers had endangered his life. A town clerk is the secretary and chief administrative officer of a town or city.
Additional report by URN