Zziwa Suspension: Government Not Concerned

Government has declined to delve into the controversies surrounding the suspension of Margaret Zziwa, the speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly-EALA pending a formal communication from the East African Affairs Minister Shem Bageine.

Margaret-Zziwa

The Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda told Parliament this afternoon that government will only act on the matter based on factual information from the line minister and not newspaper reports. On Wednesday, the media was awash with reports of Zziwa’s suspension.

According to a communication on the EALA website, members voted to suspend Zziwa following a motion tabled Abdullah Mwinyi, a legislator from Tanzania to pave way for the hearing of a motion seeking her removal from office.

She is accused of among other things abuse of office and lack of respect for members. The assembly elected Chris Opoka-Okumu, another Ugandan legislator in EALA to preside over the motion for the removal of Zziwa. Despite declining to delve into the matter, Rugunda said government was concerned about the development since it wants a stable and effective East African Legislative Assembly.

He said government is doing everything possible to ensure that the Assembly stabilizes as soon as possible and resumes its normal transactions.  Earlier, Rugunda told MPs that the EALA infighting had been on-going for some time.

Rugunda was reacting to concerns raised by Mariam Nalubega, the Butambala district woman MP who wanted to know government’s position on the suspension of Zziwa and whether or not the East African Affairs minister Shem Bageine was involved.

She threatened to move a motion to recall all Ugandan legislators in EALA unless government comes out clearly on the matter.

Wafula Oguttu, the leader of opposition in parliament said the events in EALA are tainting the image of Uganda. He said the coupe against Zziwa was masterminded by Ugandan legislators in the assembly.

Oguttu demanded that the prime minister provides the house with a statement on the matter and asked the speaker to attach a time frame.

Rebecca Kadaga, the speaker of parliament noted that Uganda was facing an unprecedented situation since no speaker has ever been suspended in the history of EALA.

Trouble Zziwa started on April 1, 2014 after Peter Mathuki moved a motion seeking her removal from office. Zziwa then dismissed the motion in June saying it had fallen short of the requirements of at least four signatures from the elected Members from each Partner State. This followed the withdrawal of signatures of three Members from the United Republic of Tanzania.

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