East African Legislative Assembly in crisis

By Vision Reporter

The crisis in EALA is far from over and one of Uganda’s representatives, Mukasa Mbidde, wants the Assembly dissolved.

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By Mary Karugaba

The crisis in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) is far from over. One of Uganda’s representatives, Mukasa Mbidde, wants the Assembly dissolved, two years before its term ends in 2017.
EALA, the legislative organ of the East African Community, has been hit by wrangles since Speaker Margaret Zziwa took over its leadership.
Mbidde told Saturday Vision that he had started the process of collecting evidence to submit to the East African Court of Justice seeking a declaration of paralysis in the Assembly.
Once court declares that the operation of the Assembly has been paralysed, an order will be served to the heads-of-states, who are mandated to dissolve the assembly.
“I have all the evidence indicating that we are paralysed. Members have adopted a mood of playfulness, they take taxpayers’ money and spend it in bars and hotels and refuse to do what the East African people sent them to do.”
“We cannot continue having persons who look at the Speaker’s job as Zziwa’s. This is a job for Uganda and if we cannot protect it, we should give up the mandate and other people do it,” he added.
Without mentioning names, he blamed the current confusion in the House on the Ugandan team, which he said were out to fail Zziwa.
“It is indiscipline. The censure motion failed. Those who were spearheading it have created a state of un-governability. They are obsessed with the desire to have Zziwa out, to the extent that we cannot sit and work,” he said.
Saturday Vision, however, could not get a comment from Uganda’s other representatives including Dora Byamukama, who contested against Zziwa for the position and was unsuccessful.
Dan Kidega, declined to comment on the matter, saying, “as a fairly senior politician, I cannot comment on Mbidde’s issues because I have not read them.”
In April, a Kenyan representative, Peter Mathuki, moved a motion to impeach Zziwa, citing misconduct, poor governance, poor leadership skills, abuse of office, disrespect and intimidation of members and staff.
The move, however, failed after Zziwa sent the Assembly on recess shortly after the motion was tabled. Court later ruled in her favour blocking the impeachment.
Last week, the House adjourned indefinitely on the last day of business owing to a quorum hitch. The House had been meeting in Kigali for two weeks.
But an attempt to suspend a Tanzanian representative, Shy Rose Bhanji, who reportedly ridiculed some East African presidents, has caused a furore.
Zziwa told Saturday Vision there was a syndicate by some members to fail her. “This did not start yesterday.
It has been on right from the beginning. They planned it and have vowed to fail me. Those I defeated have never rested,” she stated.
She insisted that with her previous record while in the Ugandan Parliament, her leadership skills cannot be questioned.
“They have tried all means, but have failed. They have resorted to a hate campaign, accusing me of all sorts of things. I have been a commissioner, committee chairperson, women leader and I have performed well.
“Several Bills were passed under my leadership. You can only say I am incompetent when you want to fail me,” she added.
The Assembly has 45 elected members from the five partner states and seven ex-officio members. Twenty of the 52 members are female.

East African Legislative Assembly in crisis