Parliament’s Rules, Privileges and Discipline Committee has recommended that Gen. Elly Tumwine is reprimanded for breach of privilege of Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal and for being disrespectful to Parliament.
The committee’s recommendation stems from its investigation into allegations of contempt of parliament levelled against Gen. Tumwine and his alleged attack on Cecilia Ogwal in the corridors of parliament.
In her statement to the committee during the investigations, MP Ogwal said that Gen. Tumwine allegedly attacked her over statements she had made on the floor of parliament pinning him for drawing a gun against her. The alleged confrontation followed a debate in which several MPs accused Tumwine of severally questioning the powers of parliament and directives made by the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.
Ogwal reported that after the debate in Parliament, Gen. Tumwine confronted her with fury, an action that posed a threat to her life. However, Tumwine told the committee that allegations by Ogwal about threatening her life were in bad faith.
In his report to parliament, the Committee Chairperson Clement Kenneth Ongalo-Obote said that from the conduct of Gen. Tumwine, the Committee found that he actually assaulted MP Ogwal. He defined assault according to Black’s Law dictionary that describes the term as a threat or use of force on another that causes that person to have a reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact.
The committee report observes that Tumwine’s attack on Ogwal was a breach of privilege because as a Member of Parliament, Ogwal has a right to debate on any matter on the floor of Parliament without fear of retaliation. Obote told parliament that the attack potentially has the effect of intimidating members from freely expressing themselves in debates on certain subjects.
“Whereas it is common practice for Members to continue discussions of the contents of one another’s debates in the House beyond the Chambers, the Committee observed that Gen. Tumwine’s gestures and proximity to Hon. Ogwal were unconventional, dishonourable and an affront to the Member’s immunity and privilege,” said Ongalo.
He said that testimonies of the witnesses corroborated the allegation of the dishonourable and unconventional conduct of Gen. Tumwine against Ogwal.
The committee also cautions that Gen. Tumwine should be conscious of the fact that given his seniority in terms of military rank, long service in Parliament and age, his statements are taken seriously and therefore, his language and conduct should be exemplary.
However, the committee’s recommended sanction is not provided for under the Parliament of Uganda Rules of Procedure but rather the Commonwealth parliamentary practice that Uganda’s Parliament subscribes to. The sanction is also used in countries such as Zambia, India, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, a minority report presented by Gaster Mugoya, the Bukholi North MP said that for all purposes and intents the conduct exhibited by Gen. Tumwine does not in any way relate to the legal definition of assault and that there was no direct or circumstantial evidence to prove that an act of assault or an attempt of the same.
But Obote appealed to parliament to disregard the minority report saying that Mugoya did not fully engage in the committee investigations and that also stayed away from the Committee’s retreat concerning the report writing.