, NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 27 – Embattled East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Speaker Margaret Zziwa says she’s still in office as she termed Wednesday’s attempts by MPs to suspend her as an illegality.
She told a news conference at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi that the suspension which was supported by 32 out of 44 members did not comply with the Rules and Procedures of the regional assembly.
“If the people of Uganda think I should resign, a voice will come and that voice I know how it will come, then I will resign. But as of now, I am still flying that flag of Uganda, I am the Speaker and I will continue doing my duties,” Zziwa said.
“I will not go to confront people; we have other organs such as East African Courts of Justice (EACJ) and the Summit,” she chest-thumped.
The EALA legislators on Wednesday suspended Zziwa for 21 days and replaced her with Temporary Speaker Chris Opoka-Okumu in order to facilitate investigations into allegations of incompetence, poor leadership, dictatorship and favouritism.
Zziwa said she has not been summoned to appear before the Committee on Legal Affairs which was mandated to handle the investigations and report back to the House.
“I will take that decision when I cross that bridge, because the Chairperson made a substantive comment, that sounded like the case has already been decided and many others may have seen that, that I was painted as a criminal, ready to be beheaded,” she told the news conference.
The Speaker disputed the allegations saying she has maintained a clean record during her 28-year stint in public service.
She said the crusade to remove her from office is informed by geo-politics from some partner States coupled with peer rivalry which began after she beat her compatriot Byamukama Dora (who was Uganda’s official candidate).
Zziwa claimed bad blood started after she managed to convince Uganda and Kenyan Presidents to agree to a review of MPs remuneration which had not been reviewed since 2008.
Zziwa, a Ugandan who took over the position in June 2012 as the first female Speaker, now says she will take the matter to the EAC Heads of State Summit which is scheduled for this Sunday in Nairobi.
“If the majority must have its way, then they must have it in the right way, if they have it in the wrong way it becomes a mob. Removal of the Speaker -which is a crucial institution in the running of legislative affairs of the EAC-, should not be handled flippantly.”
She added; “We need to understand that we are doing rules for posterity, for Zziwa, I am not immortal, I will go. But we have to make sure that whoever comes after Margaret Zziwa can be treated with respect and dignity.”
The Third Meeting of the Third Session of the Third Assembly has been sitting in Nairobi from November 18 to December 5.
The motion for her removal was filed at the assembly by an outspoken Kenyan Peter Mathuki in April, but Zziwa refused to approve the motion for debate saying it was not in compliance with the Rules of Procedures that guide the Assembly on quorum.
The Assembly rule requires that a quorum be composed of at least three of the nine elected members from each partner State.