Court orders evicted MPs back to parliament

By Sania Babirye

The supreme court has vacated a constitutional court ruling that had nullified the election of six members of Parliament from the newly formed municipalities.

Six out of the seven justices led by Justice Stella Arachi Amoko have instead ordered that the affected legislators to stay in Parliament until a consolidated appeal in which government, the MPs and the electoral commission challenging the same is heard and disposed off.

According to the Judges, the pending appeal raises serious constitutional and legal matters that must be resolved and that since the petitioners did demonstrate seriousness in pursuing the appeal, it was only fair and just that the eviction order is halted and have the appeal prosecuted first.

The justices have now ordered that the said order stays in place until further directives are made .

On the 27th of December 2019, the constitutional court evicted the MPs from their seats following a petition by former Bufumbira East MP Kwezira Eddie challenging their legality saying the said municipalities did not exist since they had not been demarcated and were formed after the 2016 general elections which the constitutional court was in agreement.

The constitutional court had Stated that the said MPs had to wait until this current 10th Parliament ended and contested in the coming one.

The MPs who were kicked out of Parliament include Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa, Sheema’s MP Dr.Eldard Mwesigye, Kotido’s MP Abraham Ziloki, Nebi’s Hashim Sulaiman, Ibanda’s Tarsis and Apach MP Patrick Ochan.

However, in February 2020, the government of Uganda through its attorney general and Electoral commission appealed the said eviction and asked the supreme court to over turn the constitutional court ruling on ground that it was unconstitutional.

According to principle state attorney George Kallemera and Eric Sabiti who is representing the electoral commission, the constitutional court ruling is unconstitutional because it is in contravention of the will of the people who elected the said MPs to represent them.

Appearing before the seven panel led by Justice Esther Kisakye, both lawyers submitted that the said affected MPs were unfairly evicted from Parliament since the lower court did not give them a chance to defend themselves.

These further stated that the constitutional court also had no powers to declare the said seats vacant and are challenging its legality in the supreme court still with a high chance of it succeeding.

According to the lawyers, if the ruling is not stayed, their case in which they are challenging the constitutional court jurisdiction to declare the six seats vacant will have been taken by events and rendered useless on top of their clients suffering irreparable damages.

However, the petitioner and former Bufumbira East Member of Parliament Kwezira Eddie led by his lawyers Ben Wacha and Wanders Ogalo asked the supreme court to dismiss the said petition in grounds that it is baseless.

According to Wanders and Ogalo, the respondents failed to clearly state how they will suffer irreparable damages because no right to a fair hearing was violated since the said positions were newly created and the affected MPs were not party to the constitutional petition and did not even ask to join as a party.

They said that if the MPs sought to be party to the said petition they should have filled their grievances in the same lower court instead of running to the supreme court and court has reserved its judgement on notice.

MPs demand closure of unscrupulous lenders’ accounts

By Alice Lubwama
A section of members of parliament have renewed their call to Government to freeze the accounts of the promoters of Ponzi and Pyramid schemes which promise high returns with little or no investment to people to defraud them .

In February this year Parliament asked the Prime Minister DR Ruhakana Rugunda to investigate the matter and report to parliament and action be taken against Ponzi and Pyramid owners who are robbing Ugandans of their money.

However, addressing a news conference at parliament MPs including Mwine Mpaka the youth representative from western Uganda ,Kigulu south MP Andrew Kaluya and Kasambya county MP Gafa Mbwatekamwa blamed government for delaying a report to parliament to stop this business which they claim is not properly regulated.

The youth mp Mwine Mpaka explains that parliament passed a resolution for government to freeze the accounts of the individuals operating Pyramid schemes and money taken to consolidated fund but to date nothings is being done.

” In February this year, the speaker asked him to present this report before the closure of this session.Should this report come and there is no action taken, we shall not only know that the executive is facilitating the existence of these Ponzi and pyramid schemes but also protecting these ponzi schemes as alleged by the public.” Mpaka said

The legislator noted that some of the individuals operating Pyramid schemes abandoned their original schemes and created new ones with intent to continue exploiting unknowing Ugandans.

He also alleges that some people who lost their money with one company whose account was frozen in 2017 have never been compensated by the ministry of finance.

” we also have information that in June 2017, they froze the account of one smart Protus magara and this 2million US dollars, we do not know whether the ministry of finance actually fixed it or it went to the consolidated fund, because this money was meant to go back to the people who lost their hard earned money but up to now they have never been compensated”. Said Mpaka

Mp Mbwatekamwa say that Government should first close all these Ponzi and pyramid companies as parliament resolved and then have them return all the money ,they have collected from Ugandans.

The central bank in 2017 cautioned the public against investing in Ponzi schemes, saying the scheme is a fraudulent investing scam promising high rates of return with little risk to investors.

According to bank of Uganda, Money invested by clients in this scheme
is not invested in any legitimate business but used to pay the people
operating the scheme as well as those who invested earlier on.

BOU further note that is why Ponzi schemes can sometimes appear to be
genuine and profitable investments; because the people who invested
first seem to be benefitting.

According to the central bank, the pyramid scheme is similar to a
Ponzi scheme but, like the name “pyramid” suggests, it is based on a
hierarchy whereby new investors are the bottom of the pyramid.

Under this scheme, the income the people provide by paying membership
fees or an initial investment is used to pay original investors.

Bank of Uganda further clarifies that pyramid and ponzi schemes, do
not sell products or make real investments but they simply rely on
money from new investors which is channeled to those at the top of the
pyramid.

NRM rebel MPs challenge Museveni’s sole candidature

By Sania Babirye

Eleven NRM Members of Parliament have dragged their party to the Constitutional challenging a resolution by the party’s central Executive committee that endorsed the sole candidature of their party President Museveni for the 2021 presidential elections.

The aggrieved rebel MPs have today petitioned the constitutional court to declare the resolution null and void.

Some of the MPs include Theodre Sekikubo, Barnarbs Tinkasiimiire , Mbwatekamwa Gaffa, Monicah Amonding , John Baptist Nambeshe, Patrick Nsamba, Samuel Lyomoki, Sylvia Akello.

Others are ; Susan Amero, James Acidri and Moses Adome Bildard.

These have filed their petition through three law firms of Caleb Alaka, Wilfred Nuwagaba and Baririre Muhangi and company advocates.

On the 19th of February this year, CEC declared President Museveni who has been the party chairman for the past 35 years as their sole presidential candidate at chobe safari lodge in Nyoya district .

However, according to the Mps the resolution that took four days blocked and suffocated the interests of other would be individuals in the party who have aspirations to become presidential candidates in the coming General elections.

Workers’ MP Sam Lyamoki says he has aspirations of contesting for the seat of the President and that President Museveni’s sole candidature was done in total disregard of his aspirations.

He further says that his party was aware of his presidential intentions since he officially communicated to the Secretary General of the party on the 19th of January 2019.

The MPs further claim that CEC had no mandate to declare president Museveni as a presidential candidate for the 2021 elections in the middle of this term (2016-2020) because it’s (CEC) 5 year tenure of office is due to expire in July 2020 and therefore have no business in the next coming elections .

The Mps claim that instead grass root elections within the party had to be conducted from which CEC would recommend the successful candidates to the National delegates conference

The MPs further want court to intervene in the internal governance of their party which they contend is not Democratic at all because their party’s Secretary General Kasule Lumumba unfairly blocked them from participating in the parliamentary caucus retreat at Kyankwazi where the sole candidature resolution was adopted .

They have now asked the Constitutional Court to declare as unconstitutional all the CEC resolutions including baring them from attending the said retreat and pay them costs for this petition.

This is the second time the NRM party is dragged to court over declaring president M7 as a sole presidential Candidate for his party.

In 2017, party supporter Benjamin Alipanga also dragged his party to the constitutional court over President Museveni’s sole candidature, however, his case was later overtaken by events forcing him to withdraw it.

MPs deserve a bigger pay -Hon. Waluswaka

By Edwin Muhumuza

Bunyole West MP, James Waluswaka has refuted media reports that legislators had decided to double their salaries. He however justifies the need for the move ,owing to the fact that MPs at times do engage in several activities ;official and unofficial. The NRM legislator says may be in the next financial year they may increase their salaries.

Usuk County MP Peter Ogwang, who is a Parliamentary Commissioner for Finance and Planning, has insisted the commission had not yet submitted a request for salary increment for MPs.

Chris Obore, the Parliament’s Director for Communication and Public Affairs, says the Parliamentary Commission did not make a request for MPs’ salary enhancement, but admitted the request may have been “introduced at some stage”.

Honourable Waluswaka,remarks that government does not have money to the extent of affording drugs such as Septrin and therefore any increment would be selfish at this time.He has instead accused the opposition of propaganda intended to throw mud at the government in order to incite the public.

Perspective

An MP in Uganda earns a basic salary of Shs 11.18m, which is taxed. However, they also take home a raft of untaxed allowances, which elevates their total pay package above the Shs 20 million-mark.

These include subsistence allowance of Shs 4.5m, town running allowance (Shs 1m), gratuity (Shs 1m), medical allowance (Shs 500,000), committee sitting allowance (Shs 50,000), plenary sitting allowance (150,000), as well as a mileage allowance from Parliament to the furthest point of an individual MP’s constituency.

In East Africa, the Ugandan MP’s take total package is higher than that of a Tanzanian legislator ($7,266) and Rwandan ($1,271). The earnings of Ugandan MPs’ have once again been put in the spotlight by the 10th Parliament to increase the legislators’ one-off car grant allowance by 94 per cent from Shs 103m of their predecessors to Shs 200m.

Electoral commission assures opposition MPs that they can’t do anything about Museveni’s donations

Justice Simon Byabakama, the Electoral Commission chairperson has said that his Commission has no powers to stop President Yoweri Museveni from donating to Ugandans even during campaigns.

Byabakama who was appearing before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee said that the law does not define when the president is conducting his presidential duties and when he is conducting political party activities.

He was responding to queries raised by Opposition MPs including Medard Lubega Sseggona for Busiro East MP and his Ndorwa East counterpart Wilfred Niwagaba, who attacked the Commission for looking on as voter bribery is committed by President Yoweri Museveni in Rukungiri District ahead of the Woman parliamentary by-election.

Sseggona together with Niwagaba questioned whether this was not voter bribery considering that the Electoral Commission has already issued a road map for a by-election in Rukungiri district.

Sseggona reminded Byabakama about the administrative guidelines issued by EC, wondering why the same guidelines have not been issued on the conduct of the president.

Over the weekend, President Museveni gave out 500 motorcycles, 25 Fuso Trucks, seven Tractors, 20 commuter taxis, High powered woodwork machines worth 193 million Shillings to Rukungiri Municipality Carpenters and Traders’ Association which has 5,000 members.

The President even took to his official twitter handle saying that his Government ushered in politics of unity as opposed to tribalism and called on the residents to reject leaders who preach tribalism.

Museveni also said that although funds to fight poverty are available, the local leaders need to monitor and discuss this in district councils.

“Government allocates about 500 billion Shillings for anti-poverty programmes like Operation Wealth Creation (OWC). The leaders here should not just focus on abusing Museveni, they should transform their communities as well,” Museveni wrote, saying that his trip was geared towards showing the leaders what they ought to be doing.

The donations come just over a month before the districts goes back to the polls to elect a Woman Member of Parliament on May 31.

Byabakama denied any wrongdoing by the Commission arguing that although guidelines are rolled out informing people on what to do during campaigns and elections, the law doesn’t seem to define when the President is conducting his presidential duties or when he is campaigning.

Byabakama reminded MPs that the same matter constituted part of the Supreme Court recommendations in the 2016 Presidential election petition and still Government has gone silent on enacting laws as recommended in the ruling.

He also noted that campaigns in Rukungiri have not yet started because nomination has not taken place and therefore, there is no way the Commission can prevail over the President’s controversial donations.

Committee Chairperson, Jacob Oboth Oboth ridiculed the Opposition MPs telling them that although Museveni’s donations look painful, they have to deal with it since that is the power of incumbency.

Early this month, the Electoral Commission (EC) released the road map for Rukungiri Parliamentary by-election setting May 31 as voting day. The programme commences with an update of the National Voters’ Register from 16th to 20th April in each of the 87 parishes and wards in the district.

The Court of Appeal on March 22 declared the seat vacant following a successful petition by Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) candidate, Betty Bamukwasa Muzanira.

Muzanira lost to Winnie Matsiko in the February 2016 elections but petitioned court citing voter bribery. High Court Judge Wilson Kwesiga had on August 8, 2016 dismissed Munazira’s petition with costs, but the petitioner took the matter to the Court of Appeal which ruled in her favour.

The justices of the Court of Appeal stated that Muzanira’s evidence proved that Matsiko made donations during the campaign period at Kibale and Nyarushanje Catholic churches.

Court noted that there was disenfranchisement of voters whereby the final results of the election of 5,413 voters were not counted when Matsiko was declared winner, thereby ordering the Electoral Commission to conduct a by-election.

In its road map, EC set nomination of candidates to be conducted for a period of two days, on May 2 and May 3, at Rukungiri District Headquarters. Campaign meetings are to be held for a period of 26 days, from May 4 to May 29. Elections will take place on Thursday May 31, 2018 between 7am and 4:00pm.

So far four candidates have already printed posters eyeing the same seat. They include; Winfred Matsiko of the ruling NRM party, Betty Bamukwasa Muzanira of FDC, Sheila Akatukunda Kirebete and Prisca Sezi Bessy Mbaguta, both independents.

 

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MPs whine over the functionality of their Ipads

Parliament skipped some items lined up for discussion on Wednesday following complaints by legislators on their Ipads.

Parliament was expected to discuss and adopt findings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the Auditor General’s report on the 2014/2015 financial year Health sector Budget.

No sooner had the PAC Chairperson Angeline Osegge started presenting the report, than the Bwamba County MP, Richard Gafabusa rose on a matter of procedure.

Gafabusa told the house chaired by the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga that he couldn’t follow the report, since it wasn’t available on his Ipad.

He was supported by Joseph Ssewungu, the Kalungu West MP who pleaded with the speaker to ensure the Ipads are worked on to improve their efficiency.

William Nzonghu, the Busongora North MP, said his Ipad has been dysfunctional for the last two months.

The Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga rejected the proposal to distribute hard copies to the legislator, saying they ditched them because of the costs involved.

She directed the Clerk to Parliament, Jane Kibirige to investigate the functionality of the Ipads and internet in the house and file a report by Thursday.

Parliament forked out Shillings 3.6 million to procure Ipads for each of the 427 legislators in the tenth parliament. The speaker introduced the use of Ipads in the house during the Ninth parliament hoping to cut down on stationary costs.

However, a year after the introduction of the Ipads, the printing, stationary and binding budget of parliament shot from Shillings 383 million to a whopping Shillings 1.5 billion.

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Speaker,MPs not amused about unannounced ministerial visits to their constituencies

Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga together with a section of legislators have today attacked ministers who visit their constituencies without consent and demobilise their voters.

During the afternoon plenary session, Kadaga and other legislators expressed anger over what they called continued ministerial visits to their constituencies without their knowledge.

In her communication to parliament, Kadaga gave an example of a number of teams sent out by government to talk to people about climate change in different constituencies without the knowledge of area MPs. She demanded an explanation from the Prime Minister.

Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebagala also expressed concern on the repeated visits by ministers in his constituency without his knowledge. He requested that ministries to write to area MPs whenever the visits are to happen.

Rubaga North MP Moses Kasibante also reported to parliament that part of the activities to which MPs are not being invited have implications on land issues.

Mitooma Woman MP Jovah Kamateeka said that the ministers use MPs’ opponents while in the constituencies.

“They are busy de-campaigning members of parliament on the ground”, said Kamateeka.

Adjumani Woman MP said that MPs form part of government and they are people’s representatives. She said that it would be prudent for them to work as a team, adding that if it is about climate change, MPs have participated highly and therefore ministers should not go in isolation.

General Moses Ali, the first Deputy Prime Minister said it was unfortunate that MPs were not informed when ministers visited their constituencies but ruled out any secret motive.

He explained that it’s the government climate change committee that was going around different constituencies to educate citizens about the changing climate patterns.

Kadaga insisted that government should share information with MPs before visits to constituencies are made.

 

 

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MPs scorn KCCA over the manner in which street vendor evictions are executed

Moses Kasibante, the Rubaga North MP and his Makindye West counterpart Allan Ssewanyana, have condemned the ruthless eviction of street vendors. On Tuesday this week, a team of Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA law Enforcement Officers backed by police embarked on the eviction of street vendors.

The evictions came a day after the KCCA political wing led by the City Lord Mayor; Erias Lukwago passed a resolution allowing the street vendors to operate between 5 to 10pm on selected city streets including Allen road, Kafumbe-Mukasa road, Nakivubo mews and Mackay road.

The political wing was compelled to pass the resolution to calm the tension between street vendors and city traders under their umbrella body, Kampala City Trader’s Association. The ruthless eviction of the vendors in disregard of the Authority resolution has drawn angry reactions from Moses Kasibante, the Rubaga North MP and his Makindye West counterpart Allan Ssewanyana.

Kasibante says they have given the KCCA technical wing and police up to Monday next week to allow the street vendors to operate freely in accordance with the council resolution.
MP Ssewanyana threatened to mobilize vendors to stage protests should KCCA ignore their demand.

Last week, Beti Olive Kamya, the Minister in Charge of Kampala announced plans to evict the vendors as part of the plans to restore order in the city.

New survey reveals MPs spent close to 25BN UGX in the recent elections

A new survey has revealed that close to 25 billion Shillings was spent by Members of Parliament during the just concluded parliamentary elections.

The report released by the Alliance for Campaign Finance Monitoring (ACFIM), a non-government election watch organisation, in Kampala today states that 24.7 billion Shillings was spent by 113 MPs out of 185 MPs interviewed during the survey.  There are more than 400 legislators in the Ugandan Parliament.

Henry Muguzi, ACFIM national coordinator, presented the findings conducted by telephone between September 16 and October 7 2016. The findings indicate that the mean expenditure for NRM MPs interviewed is 233 million Shillings, 187 million Shillings for opposition MPs and 189 million Shillings for independent MPs.

Muguzi says that the highest declared spending by a single candidate was one billion Shillings while the lowest was ten million Shillings. The report does not however state which area the MP who spent one billion Shillings comes from.

“This report indicates that elective politics in Uganda has been commercialized and that credible people are scared of joining elective politics,” Muguzi notes.

Cissy Kagaba, the Executive Director of Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda says that such expenditures undermine democracy. She adds that leaders elected into political office now seek personal interests and work towards recouping what they spend during campaigns.

“Commercialization of politics has deprived Ugandans of capable leaders in Parliament. It results into demand for higher pay by legislators since they want to recover their money spent on campaigns” Kagaba says.

The report comes on the heels of an earlier report released by ACFIM on campaign financing detailing funds spent by presidential candidates during the 2016 campaigns.

NRM presidential candidate Yoweri Museveni spent 27 billion Shillings, Amama Mbabazi spent 1.3 billion Shillings, FDC’s Kizza Besigye spent 976 million Shillings, Prof Venansius Baryamureeba 95.7 million Shillings, Dr Abed Bwanika 34.3 million Shillings and Joseph Mabiriizi spent 26.4 million Shillings.

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MP Abiriga’s all yellow outfit catches legislators’ attention

Arua Municipality Member of Parliament Ibrahim Abiriga’s dress code has become a point of contention within Parliament.  Abiriga on several occasions appears in parliament clad in a yellow Kaunda Suit, with a yellow round-neck T-shirt.

But other legislators say that Abiriga’s choice of color is akin to the prisoner’s uniform and therefore not in line with the acceptable dress code for members of parliament.

Rules 73 of the parliament rules of procedure stipulates that Members shall dress in a dignified manner and lists a number of acceptable outfits which legislators are expected to don while appearing before any formal session in the precincts of parliament.

These include a suit (a pair of long trousers, jacket, shirt and tie), a Tunic (Kanzu) and jacket or a Safari Suit, for male Members, a suit (a jacket, blouse and skirt) or dress for lady Members, decent traditional wear and military attire for Members of the Armed Forces.

The same rule also advises members to wear dignified shoes. However, Members may, with the prior leave of the Speaker, put on foot wear which may not necessarily be described as shoes.

This was a matter of debate as legislators convened on Thursday, for the afternoon plenary session chaired by Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah.

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