Mityana Municipality Member of Parliament (MP) Francis Zaake has faced multiple disciplinary issues in the Ugandan Parliament, sparking debates and controversies. Despite his experience as a legislator, the controversies from his first term continue into his current one.
Mr. Zaake’s latest encounter with trouble occurred when allegations of defamatory remarks against Rakai Woman MP Juliet Kinyamatama emerged. These allegations led to an uproar among female MPs, forcing Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa to adjourn a House sitting.
Zaake, who was initially elected as an Independent candidate in 2016 and later joined the National Unity Party (NUP), is known for being one of Uganda’s youngest MPs, having been elected at the age of 25. While he may have gained experience in his role over the years, he continues to grapple with controversies.
The recent incident revolved around Mr. Zaake allegedly demeaning MP Juliet Kinyamatama during an Independence Day rally in Rakai District, which is approximately 200 kilometers away from Kampala. Ms. Kinyamatama claimed that Zaake’s derogatory remarks, made in front of her constituents, were too offensive to repeat. To support her claim, a recording was played in the Parliament, leading to a tense situation as female MPs gathered at the chamber’s entrance.
Parliament’s Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Discipline is now set to investigate the allegations and report its findings within 45 days. This is the third time that Mr. Zaake has been referred to this committee.
In February 2022, Speaker Anita Among referred him for allegedly abusing her and the House on a social media platform. The Committee convicted him of disrespecting the Speaker, leading to his removal as a member of the Parliamentary Commission. However, the Constitutional Court later quashed this decision, citing procedural irregularities.
Mr. Zaake’s joy at the court’s decision was short-lived as Parliament, with the Attorney General’s backing, appealed the judgment. His reinstatement remains pending as the legal process continues.
In addition to these issues, Zaake faced disciplinary action in November 2022 when Deputy Speaker Tayebwa referred him over alleged misconduct. During this incident, Mr. Zaake sought to reopen debate on the abduction of mainly Opposition supporters, which had been previously resolved by the House. His absence from 10 sittings was attributed to injuries sustained when he was brutalized by security forces.
In 2017, he also claimed to have been physically assaulted by Works minister Gen Katumba Wamala during a fracas in Parliament when Opposition lawmakers attempted to block the removal of the presidential age limit. Security forces intervened violently, resulting in arrests and injuries.
Notably, Mr. Zaake’s troubles began in 2018 when his former driver, Yasin Kawuma, was killed during an incident in Arua. The violence erupted after a rally and was linked to opposition to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). Zaake and opposition leader Bobi Wine were arrested and allegedly tortured.