The deputy speaker Anita Among has ordered the Mityana Municipality MP to apologise to the House within one week as MPs Vote to Remove Zaake from Parliament over disparaging her.
The committee had been investigating Mr Zaake for two weeks over his alleged abusive tweets, targeting the deputy Speaker, Ms Anita Among, as an individual and as a presiding officer.
A total of 155 legislators on Thursday evening voted to remove Mr Francis Zaake, the Mityana Municipality MP from the Parliament Commission for disparaging the Deputy Speaker, Ms Anita Among.
Only four members voted against the removal of Mr Zaake, a member of the Opposition National Unity Platform (NUP), while the tally registered two invalid votes.
After the motion to censure Mr Zaake was carried, Ms Among said he would be required to apologise to the House within one week.
“We ask the Opposition to give us another name,” she said.
Moments before the voting which was by secret ballot, some members of the Opposition exited the chamber.
The motion for the removal of Mr Zaake was moved by Bardege-Layibi Division MP, Ojara Mapenduzi, after the House adopted the majority report authored by Parliament’s Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline chaired by Bugweri County MP, Abdu Katuntu.
The committee in its recommendations had asked Mr Zaake to apologise to the House saying his conduct was not proper and that it amounted to misbehavior and misconduct.
The committee had been investigating Mr Zaake for two weeks over his alleged abusive tweets, targeting Ms Among as an individual and as a presiding officer (Deputy Speaker).
Now, according to Katuntu, his committee inquiry was guided by three pertinent points. These included whether the impugned social media statements were made by Zaake, whether there is any breach of the rules of procedure of parliament, including any breach of privilege or matter of discipline and what are the observations and recommendations on the issue.
Katuntu reported that the Twitter handle, @ZaakeFrancis bearing particulars like oommissioner of 11th @parliament_UG, director @zaakefoundation, secretary for Youth @NUP_UG, MP Mityana Municipality and particulars of Zaake, as provided to the parliament of Uganda and contained in his personal file is the uncontroverted evidence.
“The above particulars bear the details of Hon. Francis Zaake. Without unequivocal denial by Hon. Zaake, the committee finds that the said Twitter handle belongs to Hon. Zaake,” said Katuntu.
Katuntu also said that the Facebook printout laid before parliament and provided to the committee is from the Facebook account Hon Zaake Francis Butebi and that the email address used to open up the account firstname.lastname@example.org is the same account found in Zaake’s personal file as held by the parliamentary commission.
“The committee holds the view that the same Facebook account belongs to Hon. Francis Zaake. The impugned social media content must have been posted by Hon. Zaake and or somebody associated with him, managinq his said social media accounts,” Katuntu added.
He observes that the words as used in the tweet do bring the House and the office of the speaker into disrepute. Katuntu further said that Zaake’s words denigrate public trust and confidence in the integrity of honourable members and of the House. He emphasized that the law demands members of parliament to, at all times, behave in an honourable manner and that members of parliament took oath to uphold all laws without fear or favour.
“By making the impugned statement, Hon. Zaake’s conduct did manifest one who was in breach of public trust. He did not protect the integrity of parliament, instead, the conduct brought the entire parliament and its leadership into disrepute. The statement, no doubt, undermined the dignity and integrity of the office of the speaker, the presiding officer of parliament. It lowered the esteem of the institution of parliament in the eyes of the citizens who ought to look up to their leaders,” further reads the committee report.
The committee said that Zaake could have raised a substantive motion to question the conduct or remarks made by the deputy speaker. According to Katuntu, it is the committee’s view that the conduct of Zaake was not proper and amounted to misbehaviour and misconduct for an MP.
On the allegations of breach of privilege, Katuntu said that the committee finds no merit in the complaint.
“There is no privilege provided for under the law which Hon. Zaake breached. It is the committee’s considered view that this House finds Hon. Zaake innocent of this complaint,” Katuntu recommended.
Also recommended is that the parliamentary commission should take steps to address MP Zaake’s concern about his personal security. Meanwhile, a minority report tabled by Butambala Woman MP Aisha Kabanda said that the complaint against Zaake failed to prove that the social media posts were actually made by Zaake.
The minority report is also signed by Nansana Municipality MP Musoke Wakayima, Bukomansimbi South MP Geofrey Kayemba Ssolo, Industrial Division MP Karim Masaba and Kampala Woman MP Shamim Malende.
“The Uganda Communications Commission lacks capacity and competence to investigate social media complaints. Mapendunzi lodged the complaint in bad faith. Not enough effort was made to ensure impartiality of the committee,” reads part of the minority report.
The minority MPs say that whereas parliament is mandated to make laws that govern parliament, the rules of procedure are specific to regulating proceedings before parliament and its committees.
The MPs say that the quasi-judicial mandate of the committee does not extend to conduct and affairs of members outside parliament and that assuming such mandate would be assuming the role of the Judiciary.
The minority report recommended reconciliation between the parties involved in the matter for smooth running of parliament and avoidance of unnecessary tension.