Sixty Opposition legislators have so far signed on a motion seeking to censure the Minister of Security, Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi for allegedly abdicating responsibility in the face of torture of Ugandans by security officers.
Joyce Bagala, the Shadow Minister of Information and Anti-Corruption revealed the figure on Thursday saying that more than 60 MPs have appended their signatures on a motion deposited at the office of the Sergeant –at- Arms.
Bagala says that they are still hopeful that the required 176 signatures will be raised before the 10 days provided for under the Parliament Rules of Procedure elapse. She explained that a section of Opposition MPs are currently out of the country and expected back soon.
The Opposition in Parliament started signing a motion seeking to censure Minister Muhwezi on 10th February and the 10 working days provided for under the Parliament Rules of Procedure elapse next week on Thursday 24th February.
Out of the total 529 MPs in the 11th Parliament, the Opposition requires MP 176 signatures for the censure motion to succeed. The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) Party enjoys majority numbers with 336 MPs while all Opposition Political Parties with representation in Parliament have 109 MP. The rest are Independent MPs.
Fred Kayondo, the Mukono South MP says that this is a challenge for the Opposition in parliament. He questioned why a section of Opposition MPs have not yet appended their signatures on the censure motion fronted by the Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga.
The Opposition revealed the move to censure Muwhezi on Tuesday last week as their next action being taken as part of a two weeks boycott of plenary sittings that was declared last week on Thursday.
“We have resolved to invoke rule 109 of our Rules of Procedure and Article 118 of the Constitution to censure the Minister of Security because over the last one and half years government has been receiving complaints from the public…I laid documents in Parliament in his presence over torture, forced disappearances, murders and he did not respond,” Mpuuga told journalists then.
An official notice of censure seen by Uganda Radio Network- URN was lodged to the Clerk of Parliament, Speaker, and Deputy Speaker’s office on 8th February. Mpuuga accuses the Minister of Security of totally abdicating his responsibility, breach of public duty, and that the Opposition finds him unfit to continue being in occupation of a sensitive public office.
Mpuuga’s notice indicates that Minister Muhwezi has violated the oath of allegiance and office by condoning human rights violations including enforced disappearances, torture while in detention, and extrajudicial killings.
In the past few weeks, several pictures and videos of citizens have been circulating on different media with reported torture by security forces while in detention. Recent cases Include those of Novelist Kakwenza Rukirabasaija and Samuel Masereka, the National Unity Platform –NUP Coordinator in Kasese district who displayed torture marks on their bodies inflicted under detention.
This is not the first time that the Opposition in Parliament is moving to censure different Ministers. In the past parliaments, MPs succeeded once and had the very Jim Muhwezi sacked from cabinet, but subsequent attempts to censure ministers after the restoration of parties have collapsed after failing to raise the required signatures due to insufficient opposition number in parliament.
In 2013, a motion seeking to censure the then Kampala Minister Frank Tumwebaze flopped after only 20 MPs signed out of the required 125 for the censure to go ahead during the 9th Parliament.
Another censure motion against former Security Minister, Gen. Elly Tumwine collapsed after a section of Members of Parliament faulted their colleagues for shying away from the censure process. Tumwine was being accused of contempt of Parliament.