Impeached former Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, Dr Margaret Zziwa, wants her job back — together with 6bn/- compensation.
The two are some of her demands made in the ongoing sessions of the First Instance Division of the East African Court of Justice, which commenced a four-day hearing of oral evidence in Dr Zziwa’s case against the Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC).
Dr Zziwa closed her evidence by telling the court that since she was illegally removed from office, she was seeking reinstatement. She said because of the intimidations she went through, she also sought damages in terms of salary, legal costs and compensation as she suffered reputation damage.
She alleged that the process of her removal from the Office of East African Legislative Assembly Speaker was illegal and an infringement of Articles 53 and 56 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC. Zziwa was the then elected Speaker of the EALA in 2014 but after her impeachment on 19th December 2014, the Assembly elected Mr Daniel Kidega as the new Speaker of EALA.
The Clerk of EALA, Mr Kenneth Madete, appeared pursuant to a court order issued on May 6, 2015 following the applicant’s submission to summon him to produce documents in his custody under Rule 56 of the East African Court of Justice which provides for witness summons for witness to give evidence or produce documents.
The court stated that it was clear that, the Clerk had been called to produce documents only for the record of the court and not give his opinion or any matters before the Assembly.
During cross examination by the applicant’s and the respondent’s lawyers, Mr Madete confirmed that the documents he had produced in court were the ones he had been summoned to produce and included the motion for the resolution to remove the Speaker, the report of the committee on legal rule and privileges and Hansard of the EALA during the proceedings for the removal of Ms Zziwa.
Dr Zziwa (the applicant) appeared in court to give evidence on her impeachment from the post of Speaker of the EALA, which she alleges was illegal, and an infringement of Articles 53 and 56 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.
During examination-in-chief by her lawyer, Mr Jet Tumwebaze, Dr Zziwa evidenced that she has been a Member of EALA since 2006 and was re-elected in 2014.Dr Zziwa stated that the allegations against her included poor governance and leadership skills, poor time management and laissez faire attitude towards the Assembly’s responsibilities.
Others included the provision issue of the Speaker being paid house to enable her reside in Arusha but she hardly stays in Arusha, abuse of office such as involving members of her family in office matters.
She said that once served with the motion of removal she responded to the members on the allegations against her, denying all of them. She also attempted to settle the issue diplomatically, including seeking the intervention of the EAC heads of state though her efforts did not succeed.
Dr Zziwa also said that on May 9, 2014, the East African Court of Justice gave an interim order in the Application by EALA MP Fred Mbidde Mukasa in relation to interpretation of Rule 53 of the EALA rules of procedure and that the court gave a ruling on May 29, 2014 that EALA has its rules of procedure and allowed EALA to use them in the removal proceedings.
She also mentioned that on June 3, 2014, there was a long debate in the Assembly about the motion on the removal of the Speaker, at which members debated whether it should be tabled or not because the signatures had been removed and the motion not tabled. She submitted too that members from Tanzania had withdrawn their signatures and while she did not have a new motion with the required signatures, the motion was, therefore, out of time.
Zziwa added that according to Rule 9 (2) of EALA rules of procedure on the removal of the Speaker, a motion for the removal of the Speaker shall be signed by at least four members from each Partner State and submitted to the Clerk of the Assembly.
She also said that Rule 9 (94) provides that the Motion shall be tabled in the Assembly within seven days of its receipt by the Clerk and, the House shall refer the motion to the legal rules and privileges Committee to investigate and the report of its findings would be tabled before the Assembly for debate.
That the Clerk received the notice on March 26, 2014 and received the motion on March 27, 2014 and it was brought to the Assembly on June 1, 2014, which, she claims, was time-barred.
Dr Zziwa also said that she received a suspension letter stopping her from exercising the functions of the Speaker, signed by 32 members of the Assembly – though “there was no motion to lead to such decision’’ and that she replied to the Clerk of the Assembly objecting to the suspension letter explaining that Rule 9 (6) which provides powers to remove the speaker was not complied with.
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