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FDC, Speaker Among clash over Ssemujju chief whip role

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Mafabi dismissed the claim that the appointment of a new party chief whip can have legal consequences for Parliament.

 

KAMPALA – The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party has clashed with the Speaker of Parliament over the continued stay of the opposition party’s chief whip, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda.

FDC secretary general Nathan Nandala Mafabi still insists that the Kira Municipality MP was legally dropped as the party’s chief whip on August 7 and immediately replaced with Mawokota South MP Yusuf Nsibambi.

He told Speaker Anita Among in his August 17 letter that the FDC cabinet, which is the working committee of the party’s National Executive Committee, made that decision under Article 22 of their constitution.

‘Wrong office’

“As FDC, we are not removing Hon. Ssemujju as a Member of Parliament, but rather removing him from the assignment we gave him as a party,” Mafabi told Among.

He also told the Speaker that to replace Ssemujju, they followed their internal procedures, party constitution and the Political Parties and Organizations Act as amended.

Ssemujju is still the FDC spokesperson.

“Your letter clearly shows that Parliament is meddling in internal party operations, which is against the Political Parties and Organizations Act as amended…Members of Parliament are not the party…If you had asked for clarification from me as a Member of Parliament and secretary general, I would have clarified,” Mafabi told the Speaker in a letter, a copy of which Clinton Mirrors has seen.

Mafabi stated that none of the nine FDC MPs that petitioned Among challenging the removal of Ssemujju from the post on August 14 are members of the party’s working committee.

“In fact, they petitioned the wrong office. This petition was never served to the party. We wish they had also provided you with the party constitution to show you what was violated,” he wrote.

Mafabi dismissed the claim that the appointment of a new party chief whip can have legal consequences for Parliament.

“We hope this provides clarity on the issues raised and we request that you are not misled by some members who use their privileged offices. Advise the petitioners to petition the party or court. There are no legal consequences to Parliament because Parliament is just informed of the appointment from the party, which does not require parliamentary approval,” he contended.

Mafabi is the one who communicated the news of Ssemujju’s replacement to Among in his August 7 letter, and said her “usual co-operation is highly appreciated”.

Speaker rejects move

However, in her August 16 letter to Mafabi, the Speaker said she was “unable to effect his communication until the matters raised by the petitioners had been resolved and a communication made to that effect to avoid legal consequences of the same and the disruption of parliamentary business.”

She informed Mafabi that she had received a petition against Ssemujju’s removal from that post, dated August 14, 2023.

In that petition, nine FDC MPs led by Francis Mwijukye (Buhweju county) argued that the move to drop Ssemujju was a violation of their party internal rules and procedures.

“The secretary general (Mafabi) has no constitutional mandate whatsoever to take a decision of such a matter as his role is only limited to communicating a decision or position reached at by the National Executive Committee, National Council or National Delegates Conference of the party, which was not the case in this matter,” the MPs argued.

They, therefore, noted that the decision to replace Ssemujju “is devoid of the requisite legal foundation and was communicated by a person who had no locus whatsoever”.

The Speaker told Mafabi that while these are internal party matters, they affect the harmony, cohesion and operation of Parliament.

Why Ssemujju was fired

While explaining the decision to fire Ssemujju, FDC party president Patrick Oboi Amuriat told press on August 8 that the former absconded from his duty and he was misrepresenting the party even as spokesperson.

“But he has also himself declared that he is no longer willing to work under my administration. Now that means that there is a paralysis in the work of the executive of the party and Parliament because the chief whip is supposed to liaise with Parliament where we have members with the party,” he said.

Amuriat also accused Ssemujju of failure to deliver a written report from Parliament to the executive of the party for about five years. 

Ssemujju, however, laughed off the decision to fire him, saying Mafabi had no right to do so. 

He also poured cold water on the decision to send him and six other FDC leaders to the disciplinary committee for being ‘hostile’ towards the party.

He and a group of FDC leaders, including founding party president Dr. Kizza Besigye, are at loggerheads with Amuriat and Mafabi over the so-called “dirty state money” that the party allegedly used in the 2021 general elections.

The two sides have been trading accusations as they now battle for supremacy in FDC, which will be 20 years old next December.

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