By Our Reporter
The censure attempt against Security minister, Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi has instantaneously collapsed after only 88 MPs out of the required 176 appended their signatures on the motion.
The opposition had sought to censure Muhwezi for allegedly abdicating his responsibility in the face of torture of Ugandans by security officers, detention without trial, and missing persons. The move seeking to censure Muhwezi officially started on February 10 and the 10 working days provided for under the parliament rules of procedure elapsed yesterday, 24th February 2022.
Out of the total 529 MPs in the 11th parliament, the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party enjoys majority numbers with 336 MPs against the 109 opposition MPs.
Addressing journalists at parliament, the Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga confirmed that only 88 MPs signed the motion and that two opposition MPs; People’s Progressive Party’s lone MP, Santa Akot (Aruu North) and Jimmy Lwanga (Njeru) had apologized to him for not signing since they are currently out of the country.
Mpuuga says that he is not disappointed by the failure to raise the necessary signatures, noting that this will not deter him from demanding justice.
“It’s a question of choice for somebody to consider it as a matter that is upon us as members of parliament to act as required. Secondly, I’m not disappointed, these are not acts of bravado, they are acts done deliberately to demand justice. We’re not trying to revenge on anybody, they are not acts of retribution and revenge. They are acts meant to obtain justice for citizens and therefore if members of parliament do not feel inclined to do that, it should probably go down as an abdication of responsibility to citizens and therefore the disappointment would have arisen if there was a matter for which I was pursuing vindication. But I’m pursuing justice and justice shall be obtained today or tomorrow, probably in another session of parliament,” said Mpuuga.
This is not the first time that the opposition is moving to censure different ministers only for the process to collapse after failing to raise the required signatures due to their decimal number in parliament.
In 2013, a motion seeking to censure the then Kampala minister Frank Tumwebaze flopped after only 20 MPs signed out of the required 125 for the censure to go ahead during the 9th parliament.
Another censure motion against former Security minister Gen Elly Tumwine collapsed after a section of MPs faulted their colleagues for shying away from the censure process. Tumwine was being accused of contempt of parliament.
On Wednesday, Muhwezi described the move by the opposition MPs to censure him from office as a mistake. The minister said that singling him out as an individual to bear the responsibility for the alleged human rights violations was incorrect because there are different layers of security and defense actors under different ministries.
The Rujumbura County MP, also exonerated himself and government from the accusations of torture, saying no court had proved any case of torture against the government. However, Mpuuga insists that Muhwezi is in charge of the country’s security and that should be answerable for the torture cases.
“It is not enough for him to claim that it should never have been him. He probably should tell us who is operating safe houses. Who is responsible for the runaway gun-wielding goons that are arresting, torturing and extorting money from citizens. He’s in charge of security. Whenever there’s insecurity there must be somebody responsible. If he’s aware of an individual responsible we’re waiting for him to probably cooperate and have him aligned before substantive authority to deal with their outlaw activities,” said Mpuuga.
Mpuuga says that they are to continue with another motion to call for a countrywide inquest into violations of human rights.
“We’re aware that the speaker while we were away instructed the committee for human rights to undertake some flimsy inquest. We’re not against that committee’s work. Let them do their work, ours will be a motion that will cover substantively a wide range of human rights violations that we intend to table in parliament. The motion is being considered and at an appropriate time, I will be able to inform the country, the status of that motion,” Mpuuga added.
During the opposition boycott of plenary sittings in protest against torture, deputy speaker Anita Among last week directed the parliamentary human rights committee to investigate cases of torture allegedly meted out on citizens by security personnel.
The past few weeks, social media and mainstream media has been dominated by pictures of alleged tortured victims at the hands of security operatives whilst in detention.
The most recent cases are that of now exiled novelist, Kakwenza Rukirabasaija and Samuel Masereka, National Unity Platform coordinator in Kasese district who displayed torture marks on their bodies received under detention.