Minister of Security, Gen Elly Tumwine was yesterday sent to the Parliamentary Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline for investigation over alleged spiteful remarks against Parliament and the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.
Parliament made the resolution yesterday after about an hour of a heated debate during which MPs from both the ruling NRM party and the Opposition accused Gen Tumwine of uttering statements that undermine Parliament.
Gen Tumwine is one of 10 army representatives in parliament.
Trouble started when Bukonzo West MP Godfrey Atkins Katusabe alleged on the floor of the House that Gen Tumwine during a one-on-one meeting on Monday, made disparaging statements about Parliament when the legislator informed the Security minister that he would raise a matter about ongoing fights over the cattle market in Mpondwe-Lhubiriha Town Council in Kasese District.
The cattle market is being contested by two entities, Babughirana Butchermen Development Association, and Alisamu Company Limited and as a result Kasese District security committee resolved to have the warring parties manage the market in two-week alternating shifts.
“What is Parliament and who is the Speaker? She only rules over Parliament but not Uganda,” Mr Katusabe quoted Gen Tumwine as saying.
Mr Katusabe stated that such utterances by a Minister and a General of the UPDF is “critical because it is a direct attack on Chapter Six, Article 79 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda,”
Debate then ensued when Busiro East MP Mr Medard Lubega Sseggona moved a motion seeking a resolution of Parliament to send Gen Tumwine to the Rules and Privileges Committee chaired by Kalaki County MP Mr Clement Kenneth Ongola so that he is investigated and given chance to defend himself.
Gen Tumwine was not in the House at the time and efforts by Ministers Bright Rwamirama (State for Defence) and Ms Rosemary Sseninde (State for Primary Education) asking the House not to debate the allegations in his absence were futile.
Budadiri West MP Mr Nandala Mafabi (FDC) said investigating Gen Tumwine would send a signal to the Bush War soldiers that they fought to liberate Uganda to bring sanity in the country and therefore cannot be the ones to promote impunity.
“I thought that they went to Luwero to bring sanity. Gen Tumwine be taken to the Committee on Rules so that he can know that there is a Speaker in this House,” Mafabi charged.
Mukono Municipality MP Ms Betty Nambooze (DP) and Rubaga North MP Mr Moses Kasibante (Indipendent) alleged that Gen Tumwine, while speaking on Radio CBS last year, made similar references to the Speaker and Parliament when he was defending the deployment of soldiers on the lakes to check illegal fishing nets.
Mr Kasibante reminded the Speaker that six months ago he tabled a transcription of the radio interview but nothing was done by Parliament.
Bukooli Island MP Mr George Ouma Abott (NRM), Bunyole West MP Mr James Waluswaka, and Busia Municipality MP Mr Geoffrey Macho were among the members in the ruling party that stood together with Opposition calling for investigations into Gen Tumwine’s conduct.
“That would give respect to the government I belong to because sometimes when things go wrong people attack my good government, therefore it is not good for the Minister to just come here and defend himself instead of going to the Committee,” said Mr Macho.
Gen Tumwine who entered the House midway the debate was cut shut down by Dokolo District Woman MP Ms Cecilia Ogwal as he tried to make his defence.
He said that as a person who understands the rules of procedure, he would be the first person to defend Parliament using his experience of 33 years as a legislator.
“If there is anybody who can die for this Parliament, I am the one. I am a disciplined UPDF General and I am a born-again Christian,” Gen Tumwine said but Ogwal called him to order.
Speaker Kadaga ruled that the nature of allegations against Gen Tumwine by different MPs requires him to go to the committee to establish whether he uttered the statements attributed to him.
“The allegations and utterances are similar with those that were laid on table by Honorable Kasibante six months ago. It is important that the Honourable Member is referred to the Committee to find out whether he said those things or not,” the Speaker ruled.
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