The opposition in Parliament has rejected the extension of tenure of the Committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE ) to February 2019.
“We commend the teams for the job well done but after consultations with various stakeholders and guidance from our legal team, the new request to keep the COSASE old leadership till February hasn’t been granted,” said Betty Nambooze, the spokesperson of the Leadership in Parliament.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga recently announced the COSASE team led by controversial legislators Abdu Katuntu and Anita Amongi would stay on the Committee till the disposal of the investigation on Bank of Uganda.
But the Leadership of Opposition in Parliament says refusal to vacate the positions would be undemocratic.
“We therefore need to grow a culture of peacefully and harmoniously handing over of power at the expiry of one’s term and should not set a precedent of having office bearers finding reasons to stay onto Offices beyond the specified term,” warned Nambooze.
It remains unclear why Katuntu and Amongi don’t want to let go despite FDC and the opposition appointing new members to the committee.
The development comes against the backdrop of concerns that COSASE was being used by a few individuals to harass and humiliate central bank officials.
It also was feared the probe was diverting public attention from the fraudulent activities at several defunct especially Crane Bank under embattled businessman Sudhir Ruparelia.
However, COSASE managed to expose some loopholes in BOU’s management processes which Governor Tumusiime Mutebile said they would address.
Below is Nambooze’s full statement:
On Thursday Parliament broke off for the Christmas recess after a rigorous week during which substantial Parliamentary Business was fast tracked to prepare the House for a less crowded start when we return in January 2019.
The Rt. Hon Betty Aol Achan has learnt that in the Thursday Plenary, the Rt Hon Speaker of Parliament requested for the tenure of the Committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE ) to be extended to February 2019 to allow for the disposal of the investigation on Bank of Uganda.
The Speaker was responding to a request for guidance from outgoing leadership of COSASE on how to handle business now that their term of Office had expired.
Both the Leader of Opposition and the Opposition Chief Whip didn’t have the opportunity to present their position on the matter since they were away on an engagement for the procurement of a consultant to prepare the Alternative Policy Statements.
First of all, let note be taken that by law, designation of members on Parliamentary committees is the mandate of the Chief Whip and not the Leader or Opposition.
It shall also be recalled that changes were made to the leadership of accountability committees about two months ago.
It was requested then that the terms for the holding Chairs be extended to allow for the preparation of all pending reports on investigations they had handled and it was in good faith the same was granted because was still within the law for that to be done.
Though not fatal, business that would have naturally been spared for the new leadership was charged to the outgoing leadership at a time when they should have been writing their reports prompting them to apply all their resources to the new investigations, most notably that of BOU.
We commend the teams for the job well done but after consultations with various stakeholders and guidance from our legal team, the new request to keep the COSASE old leadership till February hasn’t been granted.
As the Opposition in Uganda, we strongly believe that officials should not be permanently attached to offices especially by holding onto them at times when their mandate has expired.
This is partly what informs our departure as a minority government from the practice by the NRM.
We therefore need to grow a culture of peacefully and harmoniously handing over of power at the expiry of one’s term and should not set a precedent of having office bearers finding reasons to stay onto Offices beyond the specified term.
We are also cognisant of the fact that when we outside the law extend a term of Office to make particular people stay around to investigate institutions we shall be playing in the hands of those we are investigating since they can challenge the outcome of such probe.
Rule 132 of our rules or procedure specifically provides that, Standing Committees:
(1) The Standing Committees of the House SHALL have tenure of office of two and a half years. As it can be noted its mandatory and a deviation from the same would be fatal.
Fears should also be allayed as to the fate of such Parliamentary business since the sole major purpose of appointing new officials is continuity.
There is therefore no harm to be suffered by any investigation especially that both the Chair and his Deputy will be retained on the Committe as members.
This renders the outgoing leadership a vital resource to orient and update the new office bearers where necessary.
Besides it is within the mandate of a presiding committee chairperson to assign another member of the Committee to chair or hold as the lead counsel, a role to which the outgoing officials should be available with the capacity they have built.
In doing otherwise, we would lose the moral authority to comment on the erring colleagues who are pushing for our electoral terms to be revised while they hold office and particularly those who are facilitating life presidency for Mr. Museveni.
The LOP is therefore urges colleagues whose term or offices have expired to use the recess to prepare to handover offices to new bearers in any case not later than 31st of December 2018.
It’s also her conviction that we are a group of equals holding positions by the will of our people and with the ability to take up every office available to is us as MPs.
Members on these committees are in future advised and encouraged to seek guidance from the Minority Chief Whip and LoP first before considering appealing to the Office of the Speaker to minimise controvisies that might result from the same.
The LOP also appreciates and takes respectful note of the work done by the outgoing committee leaderships and recognises all enhancements to their capacity.
She also wishes the new position holders well and reminds them that it is on behalf of all Ugandans that we hold institutions accountable.
From us all, Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new Year.
Bakireke Nambooze Betty
Shadow Information/Kampala Minister