Mityana Municipality Member of Parliament, Francis Zaake, has asked the Clerk of Parliament to reinstate him as a Commissioner after he successfully challenged his removal. On September 28th, 2023, the Constitutional Court ruled that Deputy Speaker Anita Among violated the principles of fairness by not recusing herself as the complainant in his case.
According to Justice Irene Mulyagonja, who wrote the lead judgment, Among’s failure to acknowledge her conflict of interest showed bias and a breach of parliamentary conduct rules. The case stemmed from a petition by Zaake, who contested his removal from the parliamentary commission due to alleged misconduct, which was based on a report by the Rules, Discipline, and Privileges Committee.
The committee had accused him of breaching trust and decorum for criticizing the Speaker on social media. The Court sided with Zaake, stating that the resolution lacked the required quorum and was irregularly added to the agenda. Additionally, the Court criticized Among for not heeding the Leader of the Opposition’s advice to postpone the proceedings until the late Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, who was indisposed, could return to preside.
Nonetheless, the Court upheld the Privileges Committee’s report and recommended its implementation, clarifying that there was no need for an injunction to halt the resolution’s execution as it had already been invalidated. Following the Constitutional Court’s decision, Zaake, represented by Lukwago and Company Advocates, is demanding the reinstatement of his position and all associated privileges, including an official vehicle, a fuel card, and monthly allowances. He is also seeking payment of any unpaid allowances accumulated since March 10, 2023.
Additionally, he requests the reinstatement of his driver and political assistant, whose contracts were unilaterally terminated by Parliament on January 12th, 2023, on the grounds that he was no longer a Commissioner of Parliament. They also request that the Clerk ensures that security personnel and staff do not interfere with Zaake as he carries out his Commissioner duties or any other conduct stemming from the court’s judgment.
Elisha Bafirawara, Assistant Director of Litigation and Advisory Services, stated their intention to appeal against the Constitutional Court’s decision by the end of the week and will manage his issues accordingly. Zaake’s legal troubles began when he criticized the Speaker on social media for her comments during a plenary session honoring legislators and parliamentary staff who had participated in the East African Legislative Assembly Games in Tanzania.
During the plenary, Anita made a joking remark that, despite allegedly sustaining a broken leg following torture by state security, Zaake had won a gold medal for parliament in the 100-meter race. Anita’s comments came at a time when legislators were complaining about the increasing cases of torture perpetrated by security agencies. Among directed the committee to investigate Zaake following a motion by the Gulu City Barledge Division MP, Ojara Mapenduzi, over allegations of abusing the speaker using his social media handle.