Arusha. Former East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) speaker Margaret Zziwa has been awarded $114,000 (about Sh260 million) for wrongful removal from the position.
The Appellate Division of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) on Friday ruled in favour of the Ugandan national in a case which had dragged on since her removal in December 2014.
Ms Zziwa had originally demanded $2 million (about Sh4.5 billion), but will now have to settle for $114,000 in damages and other costs after the court concurred with her that her removal as speaker of the East African Community’s legislative arm was illegal.
The court also directed that an interest of six per cent per annum be paid on the sum from February 2015 when the case was filed.
The court, in a judgment read by EACJ president Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, concluded that Ms Zziwa’s removal was an infringement of Articles 53 and 56 of the EAC Treaty.
Ms Zziwa, an Eala member from Uganda from June 2012 until her ejection in December 2014, challenged the move by legislators to vote her out and elect another Speaker.
She asked the court to award her damages totalling $2 million in form of loss of earnings from a salary of $6,700 per month and a housing allowance of $3,000 per month.
But in its ruling on February 7, last year,the First Instance Division of the EACJ declined to grant orders for her reinstatement and general damages, prompting her to appeal.
In her appeal before the Appellate Division of the EACJ, Ms Zziwa challenged the decision of the First Instance Division, saying her removal as Eala Speaker was also in contravention of the EAC Treaty.
She also challenged the lower court’s decision to throw out her request for damages and costs, and urged the Appellate Court to use its discretion and award the appellant costs in both courts. In its judgment, the Appellate Court rejected the First Instance Division’s (Trial Court) verdict that it had no jurisdiction to grant remedy of damages to the applicant.
“We are of the firm opinion that the full effectiveness of the EAC laws, including the Treaty, and the protection of the rights granted by such laws requires the Court to grant effective relief by the way of appropriate remedies in the event of breach of such laws,” the court said.
It also dismissed the assertion by the lower court that it had no power under the EAC Treaty or the Rules to grant remedy of reinstatement as without justification.
Ms Zziwa was voted out as Eala Speaker in December, 2014 over alleged abuse of power. She was replaced by Mr Daniel Kidega also from Uganda, whose tenure ended in June, last year.
The EAC wanted the case dismissed on the grounds that her removal as Eala Speaker was in conformity with the EAC Treaty due to alleged misconduct.
Ms Zziwa was the elected Speaker of the Eala in 2014, but following her impeachment on December 19, 2014, the assembly replaced her with Mr Kidega. The current Eala speaker is Martin Ngoga from Rwanda.