Lawyer Male Mabirizi has run to Mbale High Court to challenge the decision of the deputy of parliament to refer Mityana Municipality Member of Parliament Francis Zaake to the Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Discipline for allegedly using vulgar language against the Rakai woman legislator, Juliet Suubi Kinyamatama.
Mabirizi wants the court to issue a permanent injunction restraining the Disciplinary Committee and the entire Parliament from conducting any investigations against Zaake based on the decision made by Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, last week. Records before the Court indicate that on October 12, 2023, Tayebwa referred Zaake to the Disciplinary Committee for allegedly abusing Kinyamatama.
In his petition, Mabirizi notes that Tayebwa acted with a predetermined mindset. “Hon Zaake Francis Butebi was not heard before making the decision to refer him to Parliament Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Discipline,” reads the case. He argues that the decision was illegal, procedurally improper, irrational, and contravenes the functions and powers of Parliament and those of the Deputy Speaker.
Mabirizi argues that he has a significant interest in the good governance of Uganda, democracy, the rule of law, and a free political space in Uganda. Thus, he believes it’s fair and just that the Court allows his application. He seeks a declaration that the said decision was illegal, procedurally improper, and irrational, and, therefore, it should be annulled, and Parliament prohibited from conducting any investigations against Zaake. Tayebwa and the Attorney General are the only respondents listed in the case and are yet to be summoned by the Court to file their defense.
Trouble for Zaake began when he attended the National Unity Platform-NUP party Independence Cup football tournament in Lwamaggwa village, Buyamba Constituency, Rakai District, along with other politicians. During the tournament, it is alleged that Zaake hurled insults at Kinyamatama in a video clip that went viral on social media platforms.
He reportedly called the fellow legislator a prostitute and questioned her suitability. Upon their return to Parliament, Kinyamatama complained on the floor of the House, and a video was played, sparking mixed reactions and emotions among the members. This led to chaos in the House as angry and charged female MPs sought to confront Zaake for his verbal attacks prompting Tayebwa to suspend the plenary session until the following Tuesday.
This marks the third time that Parliament has referred Zaake to its Discipline Committee. He was initially referred there for missing ten consecutive Parliamentary sittings, and then again for verbally attacking and insulting the Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, via his Twitter handle. As a consequence, the Committee found him guilty and ordered him to apologize to Amongi. Parliament resolved to suspend him from his role as the Parliamentary Commissioner. Dissatisfied with this decision, Zaake successfully petitioned the Constitutional Court.