By Stephen Twinoburyo
Earlier today, I had an intensive debate with Mr Rugaba Hussein Kashillingi regarding the position of the four ruling party Members of Parliament, Mr Theodore Sekikubo (Lwemiyaga county MP), Mr Muhammed Nsereko (Kampala central MP), Mr Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) and Mr Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga), that were expelled from the party for expressing independent opinions in a party where this is anathema.
I have been wondering if the NRM for some reason took a leaf from South Africa’s African National Congress that expelled its Youth League members last year. The circumstances though are completely different and few people in Uganda would regard these MPs as indisciplined while in South Africa, there was near unanimity on the indiscipline levels of the expelled members.
Rugaba Hussein Kashilligi’s argument is that these people should now vacate their seats since they no longer represent the NRM, and that’s where we disagree.
These MPs were not appointed to parliament by the NRM but rather elected by the people in their constituencies. In my opinion, the only thing that the NRM can do now is to count their losses in parliament and wait for the next elections. The other option is for the people that elected them to recall them – not the party.
I took a look at Chapter 6 of the Uganda constitution which deals with the establishment, composition and functions of Parliament.
As for the composition, I only concern myself here with the election of members, as the other parts are not relevant to the matter at hand and this is what it says:
78. Composition of Parliament.
(1) Parliament shall consist of—
(a) members directly elected to represent constituencies;
In short, it’s the people’s power:
However, the most important part pertinent to this matter is the section below that explains the circumstances under which a member of parliament may lose his/her seat:
83. Tenure of office of members of Parliament.
(1) A member of Parliament shall vacate his or her seat in
(a) if he or she resigns his or her office in writing signed by him or
her and addressed to the Speaker;
(b) if such circumstances arise that if that person were not a member
of Parliament would cause that person to be disqualified for
election as a member of Parliament under article 80 of this
(c) subject to the provisions of this Constitution, upon dissolution of
(d) if that person is absent from fifteen sittings of Parliament without
permission in writing of the Speaker during any period when
Parliament is continuously meeting and is unable to offer
satisfactory explanation to the relevant parliamentary committee
for his or her absence;
(e) if that person is found guilty by the appropriate tribunal of
violation of the Leadership Code of Conduct and the punishment
imposed is or includes the vacation of the office of a member of
(f) if recalled by the electorate in his or her constituency in
accordance with this Constitution;
(g) if that person leaves the political party for which he or she stood
as a candidate for election to Parliament to join another party or
to remain in Parliament as an independent member;
(h) if, having been elected to Parliament as an independent candidate,
that person joins a political party;
(i) if that person is appointed a public officer.
(2) Notwithstanding clause (1)(g) and (h) of this article, membership
of a coalition government of which his or her original political party forms
part shall not affect the status of any member of Parliament.
(3) The provisions of clauses (1)(g) and (h) and (2) of this article shall
only apply during any period when the multiparty system of government is
From the above, it appears to me that a Member of Parliament may only lose a seat out of reasons due to his/her making, like incompetence or criminal activity, or as a result of the electorate recalling him/her.
The only part that would have affected the expelled MPs is 1(g) above. However, these MPs have not left the NRM to join another party or become Independents. The NRM has decided to expel them from the party and they the NRM should bear the parliamentary loss and cannot make a choice for the people that elected them. If they had left the party out of their own volition, then that would be another case. The other alternative the NRM has is to go to those MPs constituencies and ask the people that sent them to parliament to recall them.
Some people have argued that we should look at what the NRM constitution says. Firstly, the NRM constitution is subordinate to the Uganda Constitution. Secondly, the role of the NRM constitution stopped at the expulsion of these members (not MPs) from the party. As far as parliamentary matters go, it’s that Uganda Constitution that applies.
Summarily put, the Uganda Constitution does not provide for a party removing a member from parliament. I guess the people that drafted it didn’t see this. The NRM too at that time must have been more interested in putting as many members into parliament as possible and did not foresee that a time will come when some of their own will turn against them as they slide further away from the people.
From my assessment therefore, the NRM members in Parliament are four MPs less.