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Why I disregard NRM disciplinary committee

By Vision Reporter

Added 25th April 2007 03:00 AM

I was recently given 14 days by the NRM disciplinary committee to file my defence for supporting a motion that condemned the siege of the High Court premises. I have failed to appreciate what offence I have committed when the Chairman of the party, President Yoweri Museveni, himself regretted what h

I was recently given 14 days by the NRM disciplinary committee to file my defence for supporting a motion that condemned the siege of the High Court premises. I have failed to appreciate what offence I have committed when the Chairman of the party, President Yoweri Museveni, himself regretted what h

By Henry Banyenzaki

I was recently given 14 days by the NRM disciplinary committee to file my defence for supporting a motion that condemned the siege of the High Court premises. I have failed to appreciate what offence I have committed when the Chairman of the party, President Yoweri Museveni, himself regretted what happened on that sad day.

I too joined him in regretting and condemning that unfortunate incident. Having done so, I am now accused of breaching Rule 2 of the Code of Conduct. I find this accusation misguided, misplaced and superfluous.

My support for the motion was not an act of disloyalty to NRM or its organs since it was neither NRM nor any of its organs that besieged the court nor were the actions at court blessed by NRM.

My support for the motion was an act of defending NRM, a party that neither condones nor tolerates wrong things such as those that occurred at the court premises. It’s therefore wrong to allege that in supporting the motion, I was undermining NRM for I would be the last member of NRM to undermine it.

I also do not accept the contention that the NRM parliamentary caucus is the only right forum to discuss national issues. I strongly believe that the floor of Parliament is another right forum.

I have no case to answer. As an elected MP, I have a fundamental obligation of protecting the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and promoting the democratic governance of Uganda as required under Article79 (3) of the Constitution. I see airing my views in Parliament as my primary obligation and all my actions must be viewed in this respect. Besides, under Article 94(4) of the Constitution, I have a right to move a private members bill and by extension a motion. This right is without pre-conditions particularly those intimated upon by the government chief whip.

In the exercise of my functions and duties as enshrined in the Constitution, I enjoy immunity from legal proceedings and disciplinary proceedings are indeed legal proceedings. This immunity is provided for under the Parliament Powers and Privileges Act (Cap 258) which provides that no civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against any member for the words spoken before or written in a report to Parliament or to a committee or by reason of any matter or thing brought by the MP or committee by petition, Bill, motion or otherwise. These laws are superior to the wishes and ‘guidance’ of the Government chief whip or any other person.

As a committed NRM MP who cherishes its principles and ideals, I find a lot of flaws in the idea that all MPs are bound by the caucus position. First, under Article 6(3) of the NRM constitution, the principle of consensus building is restricted to a basis for accessing positions of leadership within the organs of the NRM. The alleged caucus position and whether it is binding on members is not borne out of the NRM constitution but rather a ‘common position’ under Article 35 thereof. It is therefore inaccurate to refer to consensus building on issues to be debated on the floor of the House.

Secondly, the NRM parliamentary caucus sitting with NRM friendly independent MPs has no powers to amend by way of addition or otherwise, the NRM constitution and the position allegedly referred to in the meeting amounts to an amendment of the constitution. The power to amend the NRM constitution only lies with the National Conference under Article 42 whose composition is clearly stipulated under Article 11.

It is abundantly clear that to attempt to discipline me for seconding a motion before Parliament amounts to an abuse of an Act of Parliament, which may not augur well for those bent on commencing disciplinary proceedings against me.

The writer is the MP for Rubanda West, Kabale
As told to Mary Karugaba

Why I disregard NRM disciplinary committee

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