Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of the Opposition- LOP, says that the involvement of Bardege-Layibi Division MP, Martin Ojara Mapenduzi in the ongoing probe into the conduct of Mityana Municipality MP, Francis Zaake is of huge concern.
Since the beginning of the 11th Parliament, Mapenduzi, an independent legislator has been linked to the Opposition. When the National Unity Platform-NUP, the biggest opposition party was naming its shadow cabinet and accountability committee chairpersons, he was named the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee- PAC Local Government.
Opposition MPs chair all the four accountability committees in parliament. The chairpersons of the committees automatically become ex-officials on the Shadow Cabinet. Last week, Mapenduzi expressed his intention to move a motion for Zaake’s removal from the parliamentary commission, the top most organ of the house for allegedly using unparliamentary language against the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among.
He was accused of insulting the deputy speaker via his Twitter handle in breach of the code of conduct for a Member of Parliament since they are required to conduct themselves in a manner that maintains and strengthen public trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament. It’s on this basis that Among directed the Rules, Privileges and Discipline Committee to investigate the matter and report back within two weeks before any other process can take place.
Now, Mpuuga says that Mapenduzi’s decision is a very huge concern, but hastened to add that it is a question of personal prudence on the part of the member involved. “And if you do not introspect your own prudence, you are likely to encounter so many challenges as a political leader. I want to give benefit doubt to the honourable member because I have not met him, to get to understand what motivates his actions,” he said. He, however, noted that the issue should be a concern for the unity of the Opposition.
Speaking about the ongoing probe, which started in his absence, Mpuuga said that he had received a correspondence from the Clerk inviting Zaake to appear before the committee but he is yet to educate himself on the mandate of the committee in addressing matters on social media. Mpuuga also said that he is yet to speak to Zaake to confirm the service of the same summons before he can comment appropriately.
“But all I can say is that we are a House of leaders and if a disagreement of the nature arises, my considered view is that it can be resolved without resorting to legalese because, at the end of the day, if you ask me from my vantage point of view and experience, there will be no winner,” said Mpuuga.
The Rules Committee chaired by Bugweri County MP, Abdu Katuntu started its probe on Tuesday and interfaced with the complainants led by Mapenduzi. The others were Jonathan Ebwalu, the Soroti West Division MP, Geoffrey Macho, the Busia Municipality MP and Mary Annet Nakato, the Buyende Woman MP.
In his submission, Mapenduzi insisted that Zaake’s statements on Twitter were unparliamentary and asked the committee to find him guilty of having violated the code of conduct under the Parliament Rules of Procedure.
Geoffrey Kayemba, the Bukomansimbi South legislator and his Nansana municipality counterpart, Wakayima Musoke asked Mapenduzi whether the Twitter account under question was authentic and belonged to Zaake.
Katuntu said that the question of authenticity is a very important matter, saying it will be investigated by the committee. When asked whether the statement by the Deputy Speaker could have pushed Zaake to attack her, Mapenduzi defended Among, saying that this should not have pushed the legislator to behave in an irresponsible manner.
Katuntu stopped Mapenduzi from requesting the committee to recommend the censure of Zaake as a commissioner, saying it will require another procedure. He said that his committee is only looking at whether the MP violated the rule of privilege for members.
The Committee is scheduled to interface with Zaake on Wednesday.