By Farooq Kasule
The embattled Mityana Municipality MP, Francis Zaake, has petitioned the Constitutional Court seeking to have his removal from the office of the Commissioner of Parliament quashed.
Zaake was removed from the office of the Commissioner of Parliament on March 10 after a report by the committee on rules, privileges and discipline chaired by Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu found him guilty of insulting the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Anita Among via his Twitter handle.
In a petition lodged at the Constitutional Court on Thursday (March 17, 2022) through his lawyers of Lukwago and Company Advocates, M/s Kiiza and Mugisha advocates and Pace advocates, Zaake says he is aggrieved with the decision of removing him from the position and requiring him to apologise to Parliament within one week.
Attorney General Kenneth Kiryowa Kiwanuka, the principal legal adviser to the Government, is listed as the respondent in the petition.
Zaake contends that his removal from the office contravenes several provisions of the 1995 Constitution and he seeks a declaration that the act of Parliament of passing a resolution removing form the office of the commissioner of Parliament and requiring him to apologise within one week contravened Articles 2, 88 and 94 of the Constitution and rule 24(1) of the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure.
Zaake further contends that the act of passing a resolution to remove him from the position of the commissioner without obtaining the vote of at least half of all voting MPs contravened Articles 2, 88 and 94 of the Constitution and rule 110 (6) of the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure.
In his petition, Zaake also accuses the deputy speaker of mocking him on February 8, 2022 while presiding over a parliamentary debate about the supposed rising cases of torture in the country.
According to the court documents, the deputy speaker allegedly stated, “Much as Hon Zaake was tortured as you have said, he was able to win a gold medal with a broken leg.”
Zaake further argues that it was unconstitutional for the deputy speaker to preside over the proceedings that resulted into his removal from the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner yet she was the complainant in the matter.
“The act of the deputy speaker making her personal and individual grievances a subject of privileges and discipline which resulted into my removal from the office of the Parliamentary commissioner of Parliament on March 10 contravened Articles Article 94 of the Constitution,” Zaake contends.
The opposition National Unity Platform lawmaker contends that the act of the deputy speaker giving an ultimatum of 14 days to the committee to investigate the allegations of his alleged misconduct and report back to her contravened Articles 2, 8, 28, 44, 79, 88 and 94 of the Constitution.
Zaake also argues that the act of Parliament’s committee on rules, privileges and discipline of investigating him over allegations of non-parliamentary work on social media outside Parliament contravened Article 94 of the Constitution.
He also contests the purported sh6m ex-gratia payment given to each MP on the committee as reward for their participation in the proceedings, saying it was unconstitutional as the same imposed illegal charge on the consolidated fund in contravention of Article 93 of the Constitution.
Zaake wants an order annulling the report in which he was found unfit to hold the office of the commissioner of Parliament dated March 10 on grounds that it is inconsistent with several provisions of the Constitution.
He also seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the implementation of the resolution removing him from office of the commissioner of Parliament or taking any disciplinary action against him over non-Parliamentary work, costs of the petition and damages at an interest rate of 25% per annum.
Flanked by his lawyer Erias Lukwago at the filing of the case, Zaake said he is optimistic that the court will accord him the desired justice.
Attorney General speaks out
When contacted, Kiwanuka said he had not been served with the petition but he is ready to defend the petition once served. “Whatever was done was legally done and I am ready for the petition,” he said.