Ex-Speaker Zziwa seeks $2m compensation for impeachment by EALA

Saturday August 6 2016

The former Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly Margaret Zziwa wants $2 million as compensation for “wrongful” impeachment and the emotional pain she suffered as a result. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The former Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly Margaret Zziwa wants $2 million as compensation for “wrongful” impeachment and the emotional pain she suffered as a result. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By DICTA ASIIMWE

The former Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly Margaret Zziwa wants $2 million as compensation for “wrongful” impeachment and the emotional pain she suffered as a result.

She is also demanding reinstatement to the position she lost in 2014. Her term was due to end in 2017. The case is before the East African Court of Justice (EACJ).

Addressing an extraordinary session of the first instance of EACJ held between July 25 and 29, she said the money was for income lost, legal costs, the intimidation endured and the damage to her reputation.

In the case, filed against the East African Community Secretary-General, Ms Zziwa argues that her removal from office was illegal and contravened articles 53 and 56 of the EAC Treaty.

Article 53 states that an EALA Speaker has a five-year term and shall vacate office only upon the expiry of his/her term, if he/she resigns in writing or if he/she no longer qualifies for the job. 

Article 56 states that removal of the Speaker by a resolution has to be supported by not less than two thirds of the elected members, for inability to perform the functions of the office. Failure to perform these functions can arise from infirmity of mind or body, or misconduct.

Ms Zziwa says she wasn’t incompetent, and neither was she sick. She also disputes the manner of her removal, saying she was forcibly stopped from doing her job when she received a suspension letter signed by 32 members of EALA, yet there was never a supporting motion for the decision.

Ms Zziwa was impeached because she allegedly used to make unilateral decisions. The letter cited Ms Zziwa’s decision to end the Assembly’s policy and practice of rotational sittings in partner states.

Mumbi Ng’aru, an EALA member from Kenya and witness for Ms Zziwa, told the court that the impeachment was illegal. She said EALA members who were known supporters of Ms Zziwa were not allowed to participate in the impeachment. 

“I was in Nairobi for the EALA sitting that removed the Speaker in her absence, but I was never informed of that meeting,” she told the court.

The EACJ is expected to give its ruling in October.