Former lawmakers have cautioned the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among against using her powers to suffocate debate aimed at reprimanding the first son, Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba over his ‘irritating’ Twitter posts.
It comes a day after Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of Opposition – LoP in Parliament raised concern over Gen. Muhoozi’s Twitter posts on national and regional matters that are capable of causing insecurity and diplomatic rows between Uganda and the other East African Community – EAC member states during plenary on Tuesday.
In recent times, Muhoozi, a four-star General of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces – UPDF and Special Presidential Advisor on Special Operations has been making a series of overtone statements on his official Twitter handle, @mkainerugaba.
“As for M23, I think it is very, very dangerous for anybody to fight those brothers of ours. They are NOT terrorists! They are fighting for the rights of the Tutsi in the Democratic Republic of Congo – DRC,” the first son and the former Commander of the Land Forces tweeted on November 6.
The rebel M23 is dominated by Congolese Tutsis that claim to be fighting to protect Tutsis against militant Hutu groups, allegedly being backed by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). FDLR is an armed rebel ethnic Hutu group opposed to the ethnic Tutsi influence under President Paul Kagame, whom Gen Muhoozi mostly refers to in his tweets as an ‘uncle’.
Gen Muhoozi, 48, blamed former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, whom he referred to as his “big brother”, for not seeking re-election to earn him a third term in the August 2022 polls. “My only problem with my big brother is that he did not stand for a third term. We would have won easily,” he wrote on Twitter.
Kenya’s constitution barred Kenyatta from contesting for a third term. The Gen further tweeted that “It wouldn’t take us, my army and me, two weeks to capture Nairobi,” which would later prompt his father, President Yoweri to formally apologize to his Kenya’s counterpart President William Ruto.
It is against this background that Mpuuga was concerned that Gen Muhoozi ‘does seem to have itching fingers’ that are tweeting statements that are ‘embarrassing’ to the country, and capable of causing an ‘explosive’ diplomatic row between Uganda and neighboring EAC member states.
However, Among interjected Mpuuga’s submission on grounds that the Rules of Procedure of Parliament do not permit discussions on an individual who is not present in the House to defend him/herself.
Earlier, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the Kira Municipality Member of Parliament who doubles as the Spokesperson for the opposition Forum for Democratic Change – FDC party raised the same matter on the floor accusing Gen. Muhoozi of making statements that undermine the African force deployments in DRC but the speaker ruled him out of order.
Daniel Omara Atubo, the former Otuke County Legislator and Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development has disagreed with Among for stopping the MPs from airing their objections against the conduct of Gen Muhoozi.
Atubo, a senior lawyer cautioned Among not to use her powers to ‘kill’ the debate on Gen. Muhoozi because he does not have any special privileges as a public servant who should be shielded from the scrutiny of Parliament, the supreme arm of Government that has the right to discuss all matters that affect peace, security, stability, and development of the country.
Equally, Prof Morris Ogenga Latigo, the former Agago County Member of Parliament and former Leader of Opposition in Parliament weighed in noting that Parliament’s Committee on Defence should summon Gen Muhoozi to appear and explain the goings on, being a senior military officer.
“If that Committee declines, one can move a motion for Parliament to institute a Select Committee to investigate and pass a resolution on Gen Muhoozi’s conduct. In fact, this is the Motion that the Speaker can’t use the current excuse to derail,” Prof Ogenga told URN in an interview.
However, Zachary Olum, a former member of the National Resistance Council – NRC who also served as the Nwoya County Member of Parliament under the Democratic Party sided with Among for referring the matter to the Minister of Defense, Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja.
Olum explained that while the concerned lawmakers raised a legitimate concern on the floor of Parliament, it would not have yielded much if the Speaker allowed a debate on the subject matter because Gen Muhoozi is not a Member of Parliament and was not in the house to respond on the issue at hand.
Olum noted that the Speaker did the right thing to direct the Minister of Défense to appear on the floor to respond to the matter, noting that it will allow Members of Parliament to debate if at all Gen. Muhoozi flouted standing orders enshrined in the UPDF Act 2005. Minister Ssempijja is expected to make a formal response on the Floor of Parliament on Thursday.