Why the “rebel MPs’ could be expelled; a practical analysis.

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The Constitutional Court has today September 6th directed that the 4 MPs expelled by the NRM party temporarily stay out of Parliament pending determination of the main petition filed by their party.

The order issued by majority vote of four of the five judges is directing the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga to stop the MPs from participating in any parliamentary proceedings.

Preamble: The quartet, Theodore Ssekikubo, the MP for Lwemiyaga County, Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East), Mohammed Nsereko (Kampala Central) and Banarbas Tinkasimire (Buyaga West) had been expelled from the ruling National Resistance Movement party on April 14 for malicious propaganda and decampaigning official party candidates and interests.

Following their expulsion, the NRM went ahead and wrote to Kadaga asking her to invoke her powers to direct the Clerk to Parliament to declare the seats of the MPs vacant in order to enable the Electoral Commission to organize by-elections in their respective constituencies.

But Kadaga reminded the House that the MPs could not be expelled because the decision was not only illegal but it had “the potential of having serious Constitutional ramifications based on the following principles:

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You will appreciate that since we embraced the multiparty system of government, this will be the first time that a political organisation or party has expelled its members who are at the same time elected Members of Parliament and formally requested the Speaker to direct the Clerk to declare their seats vacant.

Article 83 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda provides as follows-
Tenure of office of Members of Parliament.

(1) A Member of Parliament shall vacate his or her seat in Parliament—

 

(a) if he or she resigns his or her office in writing signed by him or her and addressed to the Speaker;

 

(b) if such circumstances arise that if that person were not a Member of Parliament would cause that person to be disqualified for election as a Member of Parliament under article 80 of this Constitution;

 

(c) subject to the provisions of this Constitution, upon dissolution of Parliament;

 

(d) if that person is absent from fifteen sittings of Parliament without permission in writing of the Speaker during any period when Parliament is continuously meeting and is unable to offer satisfactory explanation to the relevant parliamentary committee for his or her absence;

 

(e) if that person is found guilty by the appropriate tribunal of violation of the Leadership Code of Conduct and the punishment imposed is or includes the vacation of the office of a member of Parliament;

 

(f) if recalled by the electorate in his or her constituency in accordance with this Constitution;

 

(g) if that person leaves the political party for which he or she stood as a candidate for election to Parliament to join another party or to remain in Parliament as an independent member;

 

(h) if, having been elected to Parliament as an independent candidate, that person joins a political party;

 

(i) if that person is appointed a public officer.

 

(2) Notwithstanding clause (1) (g) and (h) of this article, membership of a coalition government of which his or her original political party forms part shall not affect the status of any Member of Parliament.

 

(3) The provisions of clauses (1) (g) and (h) and (2) of this article shall only apply during any period when the multiparty system of government is in operation.”

Lessons from Rt. Col Dr. Kiiza Besigye:  Last year, the Executive under President Yoweri Museveni availed Members of Parliament with UGX. 20 million for the inspection of the NAADS project.

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The Opposition parties in Uganda viewed this money as an executive bribe and together with Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s) started the “Return the money Campaign” to persuade the MPs to return these corrupt sums but they failed.

Dr. Besigye called an urgent FDC meeting to discuss this issue which meeting I attended. I found out that of the 53 then FDC Members in the 9th Parliament, at least 48 had taken the corrupt money. Besigye being a man of principle ordered them to return the money but most of them had already used the money as they claimed.

Besigye got so irritated and mad at the MPs who had taken the bribes and threatened to expel them from the party if they don’t return the bribe money and an ultimatum of one week was served to the respective parties to which most complied but only 13 MPs failed.

Within this time (ultimatum), Dr. Besigye made serious consultations on what damage FDC could face if certain MP’s are expelled out of the party on grounds of indiscipline generally the NRM was and the results of his consultations forced him to drop his principle because the magnitude would be severe, he told me.

Besigye realized that expulsion of the of the implicated MP’s would mean an automatic expulsion from Parliament too. Already FDC had minority seats compared to the ruling NRM and if those seats fell vacant, that would mean fresh elections in which case out of the 13 constituencies, Besigye would guarantee that FDC would triumph in them hence losing seats to either NRM or any other party running.

The above statement means that if your party expels you against you will, you seize being in Parliament too which is what the NRM has done with the 4 expelled MP’s so what is wrong with them leaving the house?

Why can something be right on FDC but wrong on NRM? The expelled MPs should seek fresh mandate as Independents or on different political party tickets because from the opinion polls we have made as The Transparent Magazine indicates that the quartet are still popular figures in their respective constituencies and if they run again, chances from the political probability market are 95% that they’ll sweep the decks to re-possess their seats which contrary to popular opinion is a good thing.

Under a multiparty dispensation, that one is either with the ruling Government, an independent or with the opposition.   If you disagree with that arrangement under multi-party system, you resign. But these MPs had gone very far and internal opposition shows weakness so NRM was right to expel them though it has no law fundamental e to say, that they leave parliament.

In my professional opinion; which I had communicated to Hon. Ssekikubo in a phone conversation yesterday morning was that he should stop sending money in finding justice in an already decadent system which battle he knows he will have to lose and concentrate on re-branding; this entails that they join a new political party, form their own party or stay independent but re-run for the same seats, win and come back to the house amplified to speak without anyone trying to shut them up.

But when contacted for a comment, Tinkasimire said they were ready for a show down with the flag bearers of NRM in case of a by-election.

“You joke with the will of the masses. Let NRM be tempted to remove us from Parliament, they will learn a lesson. They will not garner 10% of the total votes in any of our Constituencies,” he  told me.

Though she is being misunderstood – and understandably so, I think that is what Speaker Kadaga is attempting to do. It won’t be easy, like a woman who has been living a single life for a long time having to adapt to the ‘marriage’ lifestyle.
 
Given the nature of our leaders, our society and our political history, it won’t be easy for the NRM too. But multi-partism deserves to be given our best shot because as it is, we are now at a point of no return.
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