EA Court Upholds Zziwa's Suspension

2035 Views Arusha, Tanzania

In short
Today's ruling implies that the assembly will proceed with a one-day sitting in its Chambers in Arusha tomorrow, Wednesday to adopt a report on the findings into complaints leveled against Zziwa, grounds of which she was suspended.

The East African Court of Justice has today ruled in favour of the termination of Margaret Nantongo Zziwa, the embattled Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly.

Zziwa filed an application in the court last week seeking to stop the legal, rules and privileges committee of the assembly from investigating her on allegations of misconduct,  abuse of office and disrespect.

The Court in its Ruling deemed it appropriate that the Application be heard ex- parte at the first instance due to the urgency of the matter considering the Report of the aforementioned Committee is scheduled for tabling and discussion on 17th December 2014, and the Applicants fate as Speaker may well depend on the outcome of this particular sitting of the Assembly. 

However, the Court found that the Applicant failed to prove the irreparable injustice that the process of the removal may cause her, as had been claimed in the application. It was also the Court's view that since the Applicant made representations to the Committee, to pre-judge the decision of this Committee and that of the Assembly would be unjust.


The Court further noted that Article 53(3) of the Treaty provides for the removal of the Speaker of the Assembly and so any holder of the office ought to know that possibility is always alive and pursuing that course of action will not amount to irreparable injustice to the Applicant.
 
The Court declared it was unable to accept the Applicant's case that she is entitled to any ex-parte orders. The Court thus ordered the Application be fixed for hearing inter parte on 3rd February 2015. The Application was dismissed with no order as to cost.

Ruling was delivered by a full bench of Judges of the First Instance Division.
Today's ruling implies that the assembly will proceed with a one-day sitting in its Chambers in Arusha tomorrow, Wednesday to adopt a report of the rules committee on the findings into complaints leveled against Zziwa, grounds of which she was suspended.

Zziwa remains suspended following a Motion barring her from exercising the functions of the Speaker, pending the finalization of the investigations into the Motion for her removal.

The motion moved by Hon Abdullah Mwinyi on November 26th, 2014, accuses Zziwa of poor governance and leadership skills, disrespect and intimidation of members and staff, and loss of confidence and trust by members -

The resolution to suspend Zziwa was arrived at during a special sitting in Nairobi, presided over by Ugandan legislator Chris Opoka-Okumu, serving in an interim capacity to handle proceedings related to the process for the removal of the Speaker under Rule 9 of the EALA Rules of Procedure.

The rules committee under the chairmanship of Hon. Frederic Ngenzebuhoro, was given twenty one (21) days within which to conclude the investigations and to report back to the Assembly. It has been receiving and assessing evidence submitted to it.

Under the provisions of the Rules, a motion seeking the removal of the Speaker from Office is referred by the House, to the Committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges for investigation within a specific time frame.

The threshold for success is fixed by the Rules upon the happening of the complaints being established as true and the removal process is endorsed by at least two-thirds of the elected Members.

If this is the case, the House will proceed to elect a new Speaker. If however, it is established that the complaints are false and therefore the Speaker has no case to answer or where the two- thirds majority is not garnered, the motion will not succeed and will be said to have been lost. Under the circumstances, the Speaker will continue in office without any inhibition from the motion.