By Timothy Agong
Yesterday, January 10th, 2018, Parliament of Uganda issued a Press Release on the raging fight about the leadership of its Committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises.
In that statement, Parliament sought to clarify that the Speaker had not ruled on the matter and that the Opposition acted in a “rather unprofessional manner” by going to the press with the request of the Speaker to the Opposition Whip that the Committee leadership be allowed to complete the seemingly unending inquiry into Bank of Uganda.
The release also reveals that what the Opposition has sought is to replace the entire team that was nominated by the FDC with new members, including the Opposition Whip himself in whose docket implementing changes falls.
Over the last three weeks, the Hon Munyagwa vs Hon Katuntu fight for the COSASE chairmanship, with the latter refusing to hand over the office to his honourable colleague.
It is certainly the position that terms of Committees expire. But did this Committee need all that time to investigate this report?
Why are all members fighting to join the same committee? This week alone, COSASE has spent two days debating bags that are not mentioned in the report they claim to be investigating.
Today will be the third day. The same Committee that is complaining of time shortages spent at least four days debating the engagement of MMAKS Advocates, even if Hon. Katuntu the Committee’s chair had ruled on the matter before the Governor stopped appearing.
The two issues (of Bagyenda’s bags and of instructions or payment of legal fees to the lawyers) are also not in the Auditor General’s report.
These and many more factors have exposed the honourable members of parliament as having vested selfish interests.
Parliament and indeed its COSASE are mandated by the constitution to serve the Ugandans and in so doing carry out its duty in accordance with the law.
The televising of the COSASE investigation on Bank of Uganda has given some committee members a chance to “Shine” as they are seen by the public and voters asking “tough” questions.
This obviously is an advantage for those seeking re-election in the next elections as the electorate would have had a chance to see you at work on television.
Could this be the reason that the investigation has dragged on and could it also be the reason a handover to Hon Munyagwa has been blocked?
Is there a risk that the “incoming” chair Hon Munyagwa could actually out perform the outgoing Hon Katuntu that has refused to hand over Office? Hon. Semujju has certainly hinted as much.
The other issue to consider is that the media was recently awash with statements that Hon Katuntu has no interest of seeking re-election as a Member of parliament.
If this is true, then it is not far-fetched that he may want to walk the path of former members of parliament by courting the executive for an appointment to a statutory body or any agency of government.
It is interesting that he kept referring to the need for Bank of Uganda’s security to be as tight as that of State House.
If he is interested in this path, he will certainly prefer to be the one presenting the COSASE report in parliament and that may explain his current actions.
In fact, why not throw out Margaret Kasule, the Bank’s Legal Counsel who has been under scrutiny in all this process and replace her with the Hon. Abdu Katuntu who now seems to pose as an expert on all things financial regulation as to offer routine lectures every thirty minutes.
By highlighting and underlining the fact that Hon. Semujju seconded himself to the committee, Parliament seems to have taken the view that his actions were for personal selfish gain.
Interestingly, it is Parliament that has now compelled us to ask why FDC is replacing all its members on the Committee.
This seems like a case of taking turns at the table for each MP to “eat” from this process. What is even more puzzling therefore, is why did the Speaker let it go this far?
How much time should committees take to investigate reports? This should certainly be a matter of interest to the Speaker’s office. It is basic effective leadership.
The Electoral Commission recently launched the road map to the 2021 general elections in Uganda. This will yet be another opportunity for the citizens to actually matter as they realise their power as provided in Article 1 of the Uganda Constitution.
The citizens will elect leaders at all levels and the leaders shall promise and take oath to uphold the constitution.
Let us remember as we approach this phase, that if there is an external hand that can afford to rent parliament to push a private agenda that pitches the rich against the masses, and our MPs can let that happen, even if they have to destroy the central bank and the men and women who work there, then we must worry for the future of this country.
The Author Is A Political Commentator And Senior Citizen