Relief for Zziwa as Tanzanian MPs Retract on Censure Motion

Margaret Zziwa, the Speaker of the East Africa Assembly
Margaret Zziwa, the Speaker of the East Africa Assembly

Debate on the planned impeachment of the speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly-EALA Margaret Nantongo Zziwa takes a new twist as more members of parliament withdraw signatures from the censure motion.

During the session today in Arusha, members spent over four hours discussing the validity of the motion whose initial supporters are now latent. Its movers however suggested that it needed to be dispensed before the EAC Budget Speech could proceed.  Others questioned why the motion was omitted from the days’ order paper.

MP Abubakar Zein remarked that the Motion was important because it touched on the privileges and immunities of the House.

As debate ensued, Hon Shy-Rose Bhanji declared that three Members of the United Republic of Tanzania had withdrawn their signatures appended to the Motion rendering it not valid for debate.

‘I stand to confirm that Hon. Adam Kimbisa, Hon. Maryam Ussi and I, have withdrawn our signatures to the Motion upon reflection. We shall thus not be proceeding with support of the Motion to remove the Speaker and United Republic of Tanzania does not have the required signatures to proceed’ Hon Bhanji remarked.

However, another MP Abdullah Mwinyi stated that it was necessary as a matter of public interest, to dispense with the matter at hand by forwarding the Motion to the Legal Rules and Privileges Committee for investigations.  He maintained that he was still a signatory to the said Motion.

Other Members who opposed the Motion are Susan Nakawuki, Taslima Twaha, Mukasa Mbidde and Mumbi Ngaru.  During the debate MP Fred Mukasa Mbidde maintained that it was the prerogative of the Speaker to determine the order of the business of the House in accordance with Rule 16 of the Rules of Procedure.

‘The said Motion is dead and the movers must look for alternative ways to resuscitate it if they so wish’ Hon Mbidde remarked. Similarly, Susan Nakawuki noted that the Motion could no longer hold since it did not meet the 4 required signatures from the United Republic of Tanzania.

Should the matter appear on the Order Paper for tomorrow (June 4, 2014) then the attendant Motion would be forwarded to the Committee of Legal Rules and Privileges for their consideration. The Committee is expected to investigate and report back its findings to the Assembly for debate.

The now controversial motion was first moved by Kenyan MP Peter Mathuki. The proposers accuse Zziwa of misconduct, poor governance, poor leadership skills, abuse of office, disrespect and intimidation of members and staff, and loss of confidence and trust.

The MPs also accuse her of being poor at time management and having a laissez-faire attitude to Assembly responsibility, which they say is causing delays and postponement of meetings.

They also cite her failure to reside in Arusha as required by the EAC Treaty. Article 53(3) of the treaty states that the Speaker may be removed by a resolution supported by not less than two thirds majority of the elected MPs for inability to perform the functions of his or her office, whether arising from infirmity of mind or body, or for misconduct.

Margaret Nantongo Zziwa yesterday appealed against a verdict by the East African Court of Justice that dismissed her plea to stop her impeachment process last week.

The Court of Justice earlier dismissed an application to issue an order restraining members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) taking action against their Speaker, Zziwa, paving way for her possible censure.

The ruling by justice Jean Bosco Butasi (Principal Judge), Justice Isaac Lenaola (Deputy Principal Judge) and Lady Justice Monica Mugenyi said that at the current stage, the presentation of the petition before the EALA Assembly was in compliance with the Treaty as prescribed under Rule 9 (4) of the Assembly’s Rules of procedure.

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