The East African Court of Justice, Arusha, Tanzania, 29th July, 2016. The First Instance Division of the East African Court of Justice commenced a four days hearing of oral evidence in Hon. Margaret Nantongo Zziwa’s case against the Secretary General of the East African Community. Hon. Zziwa alleges the process of her removal from the Office of East African Legislative Assembly Speaker was illegal and an infringement of Articles 53 and 56 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC. Hon. Zziwa was the then elected Speaker of the EALA in 2014 but after her impeachment on 19th December 2014, the Assembly elected Hon. Daniel Kidega as the new Speaker of EALA.
The Clerk of EALA, Mr. Kenneth Madete, appeared in Court pursuant to a court order issued on 6th May 2015 following the Applicant’s Application to summon him to produce documents in his custody under Rule 56 of the East African Court of Justice which provides for witness summons for witness to give evidence or produce documents. The Court stated that it was clear that, the Clerk had been called to produce documents only for the record of the Court and not give his opinion or any matters before the Assembly.
Mr. Madete during cross examination by the Applicant’s and the Respondent’s Lawyers, confirmed the documents he had produced in Court were the ones he had been summoned to produce and included the motion for the resolution to remove the Speaker, the report of the Committee on Legal rule and privileges and the hansards of EALA during the proceedings for the removal of Hon. Zziwa.
Hon. Margaret Nantongo Zziwa (the Applicant) appeared in Court to give evidence on her impeachment from the Speakership of EALA, which she alleges was illegal and an infringement of Articles 53 and 56 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.
During examination-in-chief by her Lawyer, Mr. Jet Tumwebaze, Hon. Zziwa in her evidence said that she has been a Member of Parliament of EALA since 2006 and was re-elected in 2014.
Responding to what caused her impeachment, on. Zziwa stated that the allegations against her included; poor governance and leadership skills, poor time management and laissez faire attitude towards the Assembly responsibilities, the issue of the Speaker being paid house to enable her reside in Arusha but she hardly stays in Arusha, abuse of office such as involving members of her family in office matters, family intervention in the affairs of the Assembly including her husband disruption and being disrespectful to Members of the Assembly, misallocation of resources earmarked for the Assembly plenary to other matters of personal interest such as Global Parliamentary on Habitat (GPH) that utilized the days programmed for the Assembly, not attending the Assembly meetings where she was invited, practicing nepotism, disrespect and intimidation of members of Staff, using media to character assassinate members of the Assembly, being disrespectful to Members of the Parliament, refusal of advise, loss of confidence and trust etc. She said that once she served with the motion of removal she responded to the Members these allegations against her and denied all of them. She also attempted to settle the issue diplomatically including seeking the intervention of the Heads of States in the EAC but her efforts did not succeed.
Hon. Zziwa also said that on 9th May 2014 the East African Court of Justice gave an interim order in the Application by EALA MP, Hon. Fred Mbidde Mukasa in relation to interpretation of Rule 53 of the EALA rules of procedure and that the Court gave a ruling on 29th May 2014 that EALA has its rules of procedure and allowed EALA to use them in the removal proceedings. She also mentioned that on 3rd June 2014, there was a long debate in the Assembly about the motion on the removal of the Speaker which the Members were debating whether it should be tabled or not because the signatures had been removed and the motion was not tabled. That she explained that the Members of the United Republic of Tanzania had withdrawn their signatures and she did not have a new motion with the required signatures and the motion was therefore out of time.
Hon. Zziwa added that according to Rule 9 (2) of EALA rules of procedure on the removal of the Speaker, a motion for the removal of the Speaker shall be signed by at least four members from each Partner State and submitted to the Clerk of the Assembly. She also said that Rule 9 94) provides that the Motion shall be tabled in the Assembly within seven days of its receipt by the Clerk and, the house shall refer the motion to the legal rules and privileges Committee to investigate and the report of its findings would be tabled before the Assembly for debate. That the Clerk received the notice on 26th March 2014 and received the motion on 27th March 2014 and it was brought to the Assembly on 1st June 2014 which she claims was out of time.
Hon. Zziwa also said that she received a suspension letter stopping her from exercising functions of the Speaker, signed by thirty two members of the Assembly yet there was no motion to lead to such decision and that she replied to the Clerk of the Assembly objecting to suspension letter explaining that Rule 9 (6) which provides powers to remove the speaker was not complied, but instead, In January 2015 Hon. Zziwa received a letter informing her that she was removed from office of the Speaker of EALA.
Hon. Margaret Nantongo Zziwa closed her evidence by telling the Court that since she was illegally removed from office, she was seeking Court seeking reinstatement and because of the intimidations she went through, she also sought damages in terms of salary, legal costs and compensation as she suffered reputation damage. In total she sought two million dollars (US$2,000,000) in addition to reinstatement.
Hon. Mumbi Ng’aru, EALA Member, gave evidence to the effect that she was very active in resolving the conflict of the illegal removal of Hon. Zziwa and that she attempted to resolve it through the EALA women caucus but the conflict never ended. She added that the allegations against Zziwa were not true and when they met H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to discuss the same issue nothing came out of it. Hon. Mumbi also told the Court that while they were in Nairobi for an EALA sitting, she was never informed of the meeting and the house sat and removed the Speaker in her absence. She therefore concluded her evidence by pleading to Court to assist EALA so that such illegality should never happen in future.
The Applicant only had one witness to call apart from herself as the other three were not available due to different reasons as some were not in Arusha, including Hon. Suzan Nakawuki who had requested to give her evidence through video conferencing, but the Court could not allow because of short notice and the Court did not have time go through a standard test to guarantee integrity of the place where she was to give her evidence from.
The hearing of the oral evidence continued for the witnesses of the Respondent (Secretary General).
The matter came before a full bench of five Hon. Judges of the First Instance Division composed of Honourable Lady Justice Monica Mugenyi (Principal Judge), Justice Isaac Lenaola (Deputy Principal Judge), Justice Faustin Ntezilyayo, Justice Fakihi A . Jundu and Justice Audace Ngiye in open Court.
Notes for editors
Sec 20 of the East African Legislative Assembly Powers and Privileges Act, 2003 provides that;
1.Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, no member or officer of the Assembly and no person employed to take minutes or record evidence before the Assembly or any Committee shall, except as provided in this Act, give evidence else-where in respect of the contents of such minutes or evidence or of the contents of any documents laid before the Assembly or such Committee, as the case may be, or in respect of any proceedings or examination held before the Assembly or such Committee, as the case may be, without the special leave of the Assembly first had and obtained in writing.
2.The special leave referred to in subsection (1) may be given during recess or adjournment by the Speaker or in his absence or incapacity or during any dissolution of the Assembly by the Clerk.
About the EACJ
The East African Court of Justice (EACJ or ‘the Court’), is one of the Organs of the East African Community established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. Established in November 2001, the Court’s major responsibility is to ensure the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the EAC Treaty.
Arusha is the temporary seat of the Court until the Summit determines its permanent seat. The Court’s sub-registries are located in the respective National Courts in the Partner States.
For more information please contact:
Yufnalis Okubo, Registrar, East African Court of Justice. Tel: 255-27-2162149
East African Court of Justice