Parliament yesterday adopted a report recommending that the Minister for Security, Gen. Elly Tumwine, be reprimanded for verbally and emotionally assaulting the Dokolo District Woman MP, Cecilia Ogwal, last month.
The decision to hold Tumwine who doubles as one of Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) representatives in Parliament, responsible for shouting down and threatening violence against his colleague was reached yesterday evening.
MPs across the political divide unanimously adopted a report by the parliamentary committee on rules, privileges and discipline that has for the last fortnight, been investigating a litany of misconduct accusations levelled against Tumwine.
Tumwine told journalists outside the House that neither Parliament nor the committee has been fair to him. He accused them of violating the laws of natural justice.
“I am used to fighting protracted battles. I am going to struggle for the truth to the end.” It wasn’t clear how Tumwine will be reprimanded.
The Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said she will decide on the course of action later or consider a reconciliation meeting proposed by the Minister of State for Veteran Affairs, Bright Rwamirama. The security minister was, however, cleared of accusations of contempt of parliament
He was also accused of contempt of the institution he has served for over three decades and its leadership. Tumwine was cleared on the accusation of contempt of Parliament.
Last month, Bukonzo West MP, Atkins Katusabe brought to the fore a statement vindicating Tumwine of having made contemptuous utterances against the authority of Parliament and its leadership, prompting the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, to call for an investigation into the matter.
The report, tabled by committee chair Kenneth Ongalo-Obote (Kalaki County) said Katusabe accused Tumwine of demeaning the Speaker in a private meeting, when the former had gone to lodge a complaint about the closure and heavy security deployment at the Babughirana and Alisam abattoirs in Kasese, with soldiers given shoot-to-kill orders.
It added that Katusabe claimed that Tumwine said: “Who is the speaker? What is Parliament? The Speaker rules over Parliament, she doesn’t rule over Uganda. This country was liberated by the army, but not by her parliament. Don’t tell me about your Parliament, the army cannot be directed by civilians…”
Obote said whereas his investigation found that Tumwine made the said utterances, according to witness submissions made by both Atkins and Tumwine and corroborated by the state minister for health, Sarah Opendi, who also attended the meeting, it exonerated him (Tumwine) of contempt of parliament because he made the statements in a private meeting.
“We observed that he made the statements, but he considered it a private meeting. He thus expressed his views in an informal way. Therefore, they needed to be treated with confidentiality. We thus can’t determine whether they were meant to demean Parliament and the speaker,” said Obote.
On allegations that Tumwine threatened to harm Ogwal for disclosing that in the 7th Parliament, he drew a gun at her for opposing the use of DDT to control mosquitoes, the committee said the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage was not clear enough to prove there was an attempt to cause physical harm.
But Obote said statements from Ogwal and eyewitnesses Lilly Adong (Nwoya district Woman) and Judith Akello (Agago District Woman) proved that Tumiwne raised his voice against his victim, finger-pointing and back and forth movement within the Parliament lobby, “apprehended fear for Ogwal and his family, as well as raising her blood pressure.”
The Bukooli North MP, Gaster Mugoya presented a minority report arguing that Opendi’s submission claiming that Tumwine is a bully was against the laws of natural justice because it came after the committee had closed receiving statements from witnesses and therefore, to balance the scale of justice, he Tumwine should have been recalled to defend himself.
The minority report was however rejected following Obote’s revelation that Mugoya, out of nine meetings, only attended one meeting and proceeded to write a minority report without attending the committee retreat that drafted the main report where he could have raised his concerns.