MPs gather signatures to impeach Tumwebaze

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Minister Frank Tumwebaze

Members of Parliament have started collecting signatures to impeach Information, Communication and Technology Minister, Frank Tumwebaze.

The legislators who are collecting the signatures, accuse Tumwebaze of pushing for the disconnection of unverified and unregistered sim cards even after the house passed a motion barring telecoms from deactivating the sim cards.

Speaking to journalists at Parliament on Monday, Tumwebaze said “switching off unregistered sim cards wasn’t a sole decision taken from my office”

But MPs including James Waluswaka, MP for Bunyole County West, who is reportedly championing the campaign, accuse the minister of placing himself above the protocols of parliament and are now working on a motion to impeach Tumwebaze.

“What he committed is a case of contempt of parliament [and] an abuse of people’s power,” shadow Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Medard Lubega Sseggona (Busiro East) told The Observer newspaper.

He added: “If parliament resolved that you extend [the deadline]… then you go on and act against a resolution of parliament, it is better that we censure you.”

Sseggona further assured the newspaper that they were in the initial stages of drafting the censure motion.

On Friday last week, the Speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga directed the Rules, Discipline and Privileges committee of parliament to investigate the minister for defying a resolution of parliament to extend the sim card verification exercise for a year.

Tumwebaze defended himself saying while the switch off will disable voice communication on the affected SIM cards, the exercise of verification will continue.

Speaking at Parliament today, Tumwebaze told journalists that he is ready to defend himself on allegations of contempt of parliament.

Tumwebaze says what he communicated is a collective cabinet decision arrived at following thorough consultations.

Chris Obore, the Parliament Communications Director, while defending Kadaga, said happened means there is a dialogue problem between the arms of government.

On Sunday, David Kabanda, YONASA President, Social and Human Rights Activist and Panellist at “NBS Eagle” programme, accused Kadaga of seeking cheap popularity.

“Parliament is dead. It’s like an old dog without teeth which only barks when it sees an intruder,” Kabanda said, telling Tumwebaze not to be threatened by Parliament over decision to disconnect unverified SIM cards.

Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, says what government had to do was to call the stakeholders and do an analysis; and is what happened on Friday.

“What Minister Tumwebaze did was a decision of Cabinet and we planned to brief Parliament on Tuesday,” she explained, adding, “The minister acted on collective responsibility, he didn’t disrespect the Speaker. There was lack of communication because a lot was happening.”

According to her, Parliament is not at loggerheads with the Cabinet. Parliament will be briefed on Tuesday.

This is a second time MPs try to impeach Tumwebaze

If what the MPs say comes to fruition, this will be the second time in a space of three years that parliament tries to impeach Tumwebaze.

In 2013, MPs tried to censure Tumwebaze, then Kampala Minister, but failed to raise the required number of signatures to kick him out of office.

They accused him of spearheading the impeachment of Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago, and fighting hard to ensure the mayor never returns to his office at City Hall.

Abdi Chemaswet, was the lead petitioner, supported by Gerald Karuhanga (Youth, Western) while then Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, was leading reconciliatory talks with the then Leader of the Opposition, Nandala-Mafabi.

In 2014, Tumwebaze said the motion to impeach him was bogus because there ‘was no justification’.

“From the onset, I knew that their bogus censure motion was going to collapse because it was brought in bad faith and my brother Gerald Karuhanga and his other schemers knew it.”

The legislators then had failed miserably to raise the 125 signatures required for their motion to stand and move to the next level.