Wednesday December 5 2012

Museveni to address Parliament

By Sheila Naturinda & Isaac Imaka

President Museveni will address Parliament tomorrow, although the topic of his briefing has not been revealed.

His address, which was yesterday announced by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, comes after days of the Executive struggling to have a contentious clause in the proposed Petroleum (Exploration, Production and Development) Bill 2012 pass through after months of debating the proposed Bill.

Although Mr Museveni’s address is supposed to be listened to in silence with no questions and debate, he is expected to meet resistance from MPs over his position to grant the energy minister unilateral powers over key areas of the oil sector.

The Bill, which has 130 main clauses, had received the green light save for Clause 9, which covers the matter of powers of the minister to, among others, grant and revoke licences and negotiate and endorse petroleum agreements.

In their previous debate two weeks ago, Parliament agreed that in the interest of transparency and promoting MPs’ constitutional oversight role, this function be left to the Petroleum Authority whose decisions would have to be approved by the House, while leaving policy decisions in the hands of the minister.

A few days later however, Mr Museveni, through the minister of energy, asked for a recomittal of the same clause so that Parliament should change its earlier position and now empower the minister.
Meanwhile, Ms Kadaga yesterday gave the Rules and Privileges Committee an additional 10 days to finalise their inquiry on which MPs disorganised the November 27 proceedings of Parliament.

The committee has since identified 239 potential witnesses, and has so far had 16 testify, among them the NRM Chief Whip, Ms Justine Lumumba, who told the committee that Ms Kadaga should take the blame for the mess of the proceedings.

“Why I insist on the Speaker, is ,for example, even when court ruled that the previous oil proceedings were conducted in a mob action manner, since then she didn’t take any action. She also left hanging the manner in which we conducted ourselves during EALA polls, we turned the chamber into a political rally,” she said. But with a disclaimer, Ms Lumumba said, “When I talk about Speaker, I mean both the Speaker (Ms Kadaga) and the deputy (Mr Jacob Oulanyah).