The Constitutional Court on Thursday quashed the resolution by Parliament of Uganda to remove Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake from the parliamentary Commission conflict of interest by the speaker, lack of quorum, disregard of house rules and several provisions of the Constitution.
Zaake was thrown out of the parliamentary Commission in March 2022 following a vote on a motion tabled in the house on grounds of misconduct and misbehavior, but after a committee report pinning the legislator for soiling the integrity of parliament but also throwing the integrity of it’s leadership into disrepute.
In a ruling which was read by the Constitutional Court registrar Kagolo Mushabe, the 5 justices agreed that the passing of the resolution by parliament to remove Zaake from the Commission without a requisite quorum of one-half of the voting members of parliament contravened or was inconsistent with articles 2(1) &(2), 88 and 94(1), and rule 84(1) of the Rules of Procedure of parliament.
In a secret ballot conducted, out of 161 members of parliament, 155 MPs voted to remove Zaake from office of Commissioner –a decision he opted to challenge in courts of law.
The justices also noted that Parliament’s disregard of Rule 111(5) during the debate on the motion to remove Zaake from the commission contravened articles 2, 228(3)b,c and d 42, 44(C) and 79© of the Constitution.
Furthermore, the ruling refers to the amendment of the recommendations in the report of the parliamentary committee on Rules privileges and Discipline to include a recommendation that Zaake be removed from office which the justices say had no basis in the law and was passed in contravention of articles 42 and 44(C) of the Constitution and and Rule 110(5) in Rules of procedure of Parliament.
The justices agreed that suspension of rules 24, 110(5 $6), 111(2) and 175(2) of the rules of procedure of parliament during the 14th sitting of parliament that adopted the report to suspend Zaake from office compromised the rules of natural justice, and was inconsistent with and in contravention of articles 2(1&2), 28, 42 and 44C of the Constitution.
The justices noted that Deputy speaker Anita Among acted as a judge in her own cause when she continued chairing parliament on a matter in which she had a personal interest, the result and proceedings contravened or were inconsistent with Articles 2(1and 2) 8A,28, 42, 44C of the Constitution and were null and void.
The Constitutional Court justices however agreed with the respondent that the passing and signing of the report on the inquiry into allegations of misconduct and misbehavior against Zaake was done in the presence of the requisite qorum of a third of members on the committee and was not inconsistent with or in contravention of parliamentary rules.
Parliament did not abdicate its responsibility to provide for different quorums for different purposes as is required by Article 88(2), the Rules of procedure of parliament in respect of quorum are therefore not inconsistent with article 88(2) of the Constitution.
“I will further order that; (a) the resolution to remove the petitioner from office is hereby quashed.
(b) The order to annul the report of the Committee on Rules and Privileges on the investigation into alleged misconduct and misbehavior of Hon. Francis Zaake Butebi is denied and parliament may implement the recommendations of the report in conformity with the law.
(c) The respondent shall pay one half of the costs of the petition”