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Court Rejects Application to Block Impeachment of Masaka City Speaker :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Court Rejects Application to Block Impeachment of Masaka City Speaker

In September, a section of Masaka City Councillor embarked on the process to impeach Ssempijja, accusing him of tampering with official court records, highhandedness while executing his duties, misusing his authority to mistreat councilors, exerting undue dominance over them and neglecting his parental responsibility.
28 Nov 2023 16:28
The Masaka City Council Speaker Tony Ssempijja who is facing Censor by councilors
Masaka High Court has rejected an application seeking to block the planned censure of Tony Ssempijja, the Speaker of Masaka City Council.  

In September, a section of Masaka City Councillor embarked on the process to impeach Ssempijja, accusing him of tampering with official court records, highhandedness while executing his duties, misusing his authority to mistreat councilors, exerting undue dominance over them and neglecting his parental responsibility.

The councilors petitioned the Ministry of Local Government Raphael Magyezi, notifying him of their intention to pass a vote of no confidence against the Speaker.  

However, Ssempijja through his lawyers; of Mbabali Jude and Company Advocates ran the court and applied for an injunction against his censure, alleging that it was a plot conceived out of malice and falsehoods for which he was not accorded a fair hearing.

He requested the court to issue an order restraining the Minister for Local Government from presiding over a council in session in Masaka city and allowing a debate on the censure motion.

He also alleges that the planned censure contravened the set laws, arguing that instead of the petitioner seeking an audience with the Minister of Local Government to substantiate their grounds, it was the Mayor calling the Minister to preside over the debate on the censure motion.  

However, the Masaka High Court Registrar Julius Borore, has dismissed the application, indicating that the applicant was attempting to move court to interfere with the responsibilities of the Minister of Local Government.

Borore argued that the Minister of Local Government as a legal superintendent has the authority to intervene, probe, and make decisions regarding any complaints brought to his attention, and the court could not block him from performing his constitutional responsibilities.  

“The alleged censure motion is yet to be debated and considered, therefore court finds it difficult to issue orders about a decision that has not yet been taken,” the ruling indicates part, adding that the council is free to continue to transact business and to allow an opportunity of fair hearing to the applicant.

Zahara Nalubyayi, the Masaka City Female Councilor representing the Kimanya-Kabonera division, who was among the team that petitioned the Minister, has received the ruling as a remedy to the confusion that affects the Masaka City Council.

According to Nalubyayi, they have repeatedly been calling their Speaker to order but he has deliberately remained indifferent, which cast the council in public disrepute, something that prompted them to consider impeaching her.  

Nalubyayi indicates that prior to initiating the censure, the council attempted to institute a special committee to probe the allegations, but the Speaker frustrated all the efforts, hence referring the matter to the Minister as the supervisor.

However, Ssempijja indicates that he is not moved by the dismissal of his application, warning that should the Minister go ahead to preside over a debate of his censure, he will file a main suit against him and Masaka City Council.

He argues that besides basing on falsehoods, the councils are basing their decisions on the wrong sections of the law.   

The Local Government Act provides that a Speaker or Deputy Speaker can be removed from office by a resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the council members, based on grounds of abuse of office, incompetence, misconduct, or misbehavior.

But Ssempijja through his lawyer also argues that such provisions are yet to be gazetted as laws to be applied in the newly created City Council.              

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