MPs question status of Minister Elioda Tumwesigye

The nomination of Minister of Science and Technology Elioda Tumwesigye to contest as Sheema Municipality MP was on Wednesday questioned by parliament.

The matter Came in the floor of the house when the Minister rose to respond to queries raised by MPs during a debate on the adoption of the report on the ministerial policy statements and budget estimates for 2018/2019 for the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

When he got to the floor, the Aruu County MP Odonga Otto raised on a procedural matter, questioning capacity under which the Minister was addressing Parliament.

“The Member speaking has been nominated to contest as MP for Sheema Municipality, we want to know his status in this House, whether he is making the statement as a minister because he was nominated to run as MP for Sheema Municipality,” Odonga said.

The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga asked rhetorically if Tumwesigye has no constituency, before asking the Minister to take his seat,as she consults on the matter.

Tumwesigye is the sitting Sheema North MP which was split to create Sheema Municipality.

He caused controversy when he got nominated to contest in the NRM primaries for the new constituency.

In a May 7 letter by the Chairman of the Electoral Commission Justice Simon Byabakama said that there is no need for Tumwesigye to relinquish his Parliamentary seat because he was not in breach of any constitutional provision.

Byabakama wrote in response to an inquiry by the NRM Deputy electoral commission chairman John Arimpa Kyigagi.

Byabakama made reference to Article 80 of the Constitution, that states; a public officer or a person employed in any government department or any agency of government or body in which government has controlling interest, who wishes to stand in general elections as Member of Parliament is required to resign his or her office at least 90 days before the day of nomination.

This, Byabakama said, does not apply to an MP or government minister.

In Parliament, Kadaga based on Article 83 to defend Tumwesigye’s presence in the House telling MPs that the minister still an MP until further notice.

“He has a five year mandate of representing a constituency in Sheema which has been split, he can elect to stand in the new one or remain in the old constituency,” Kadaga said.

But still, MPs, mainly on the opposition side protested and attempted to shout down the minister as he made responses to queries about his docket’s Ministerial policy statement.