Censure motion hits speed bumps as MPs demand evidence

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Censure motion hits speed bumps as MPs demand evidence
Censure motion mover Theodore Ssekikubo

Theodore Ssekikubo and fellow censure motion movers hit speed bumps on Thursday when a group of legislators demanded evidence of corruption against the four parliamentary commissioners.

Lwemiyaga County MP Ssekikubo and Tororo Woman MP Sarah Opendi have spent the last six days tagging at every passing legislator's shirt or blouse and urging them to append their signature to paperwork that could see four MPs thrown out of the Parliamentary Commission.

Esther Afoyochan (Zombo Woman - NRM), Prossy Akampulira Mbabazi (Rubanda Woman - NRM}, Solomon Silwany (Bukooli Central - NRM}, and Mathias Mpuuga (Nyendo-Mukungwe -NUP) face censure over pocking at total of Shs1.7 billion as service award without the approval of the House.

But drama unfolded yesterday with unexpected twists and turns as MPs demanded concrete evidence of corruption in the petition.

Initially, the atmosphere at the censure motion desk seemed routine, with members readily endorsing the removal of their commissioners.

However, this changed swiftly as a group of legislators demanded proof of corruption allegations against the officials they were being asked to censure.

Skepticism arose regarding the motives behind the motion's instigators.

Wilfred Niwagaba, the Shadow attorney general, refused to sign the censure motion until provided with tangible evidence of the alleged misconduct, emphasisng the importance of transparency and adherence to rules.

“I look at the rules differently..." he said. "So when you have evidence, you let me know. We are only demanding to have evidence before we sign not to fault the law.”

Nathan Byanyima, echoing Niwagaba's sentiments, expressed concerns about potential ulterior motives and cautioned against pressuring MPs to sign based on threats of electoral consequences.

Byanyima stressed the necessity for clear grounds for censure and urged for transparency in the process to ensure its success. He emphasized the importance of thorough examination and understanding of the petition's details to avoid loopholes.

“When I censured the Minister, people asked me, did we send you to censure ministers or we sent you to work for us?" he said.

"As somebody who has been in it, I would like something to be transparent so that you can package something and it succeeds. If I find that the money was appropriated by us, because MPs don’t read a lot, things pass, what if the money was passed by us, what will happen?”

Accusations flew between MPs, with some accusing their colleagues of withholding information while others were accused of acting on behalf of hidden interests.

Ms Opendi criticised Niwagaba for demanding evidence and labelled him a "hired gun," urging the electorate to scrutinise such MPs during elections.

“For a senior member of the House, who is also a Shadow Attorney General, to come and make statements which are contrary, we consulted legal minds before we even moved this motion because our focus is the removal of the commissioners not removal of all members of the Parliamentary Commission," she said.

"But we all know they are behaving like hired guns, it is very unfortunate to behave like hired guns, making accountability for whoever could have sent them.”

Efforts to resolve the matter internally were rebuffed, leading to the decision to pursue censure.

Ms Opendi dismissed calls to handle the issue within parliamentary procedures, asserting the need for accountability and adherence to established rules.

Mr Abdul Katutu, chairperson for the Rules, Privileges, and Discipline Committee of Parliament, cautioned against taking sides in the ongoing debate.

Katuntu distanced himself from the censure motion, citing his role as chairperson of Parliament’s Rules Committee and the potential conflict of interest it posed.

“I have a judicious mind and a judicious responsibility, I am the Chairperson of the Rules Committee of Parliament which is charged with the responsibility of investigating any issue on alleged allegations of misbehavior," he said.

"Given that role, I can’t participate in being an accuser because these are potentially matters that may come to my committee and I have a judicious mind, so I can’t be therefore the one accusing MPs, instead, MPs appear before my Committee. So I can’t be party to the process of being an accuser."

As the drama unfolded, tensions rose, revealing underlying rifts and complexities within the parliamentary landscape.

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