Is this end of the road for Vinci coffee deal?

Finance minister Matia Kasaija (2nd left) exchanges documents with Ms Enrica Pinetti (right) after signing an agreement with the Finance ministry to establish a coffee processing plant in Uganda, on February 10. PHOTO / FILE

What you need to know:

  • Mr Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda (Kira Municipality) said the House  has general powers, but could use some of their specific mandates to influence decisions of government.

News of Parliament’s decision to terminate the controversial coffee deal was received with delight and relief with a section of stakeholders applauding the 11th Parliament for standing with Ugandans.
“Folks, thank you for standing with the Ugandan coffee farmer. This gives us a chance to define a meaningful way forward,” Mr Robert Kabushenga, a coffee farmer, tweeted.

Buganda Kingdom tasks govt to review coffee deal
Based on multiple legal contraventions, the House on Tuesday unanimously voted to cancel the deal between the government and Uganda Vinci Company Limited. 

The deal granted incentives like a 10-year tax holiday, monopoly to buy premium coffee, free land and other amenities.
However, Parliament’s decision is not automatically binding to the Executive, but largely advisory.
Already, the two arms of government are on opposing sides, after Parliament rejected President Museveni’s proposal to review the controversial clauses.

Mr Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda (Kira Municipality) said the House  has general powers, but could use some of their specific mandates to influence decisions of government.
“There are decisions that are binding, while some are advisory. There are things Parliament can do to influence the Executive to implement its decision; the only problem is that the MPs sometimes surrender their power. If they refuse to implement your decision, you cut the budget. We have powers to make sure it is implemented and it is going to be a test for Parliament,” he said.
Mr Richard Wanda (Bungokho Central) said they may consider impeaching the officials implicated if no whip is cracked on the said officials.

“Parliament has the capacity to impeach the political leaders involved in this. So by requesting the President that he puts them aside for investigation does not mean that Parliament does not have an option. If Parliament is convinced that something should have been done, there are other ways of handling the matter,” Mr Wanda said.
Mr Karim Masaba, (Mbale Industrial Division),  a member of the Finance Committee ,is confident that the House will take collective effort in pinning implicated officials in the event that no definitive action is taken.
“The good thing is that this time we are united as the House because it is one of the biggest. We are waiting to see the seriousness of the appointing authority. So the President should stand and support this,” Mr Masaba said.
He added: “I believe the President does not want to frustrate the investors he needs to consider his people first.”

Unlike Mr Wanda, Ms Joyce Bagala (Mityana Woman) has no confidence in the ruling government,  saying it shoulders a history of not whipping officials that have previously been implicated and found guilty in such matters.
“My confidence is not in the government doing what it is supposed to do because in the past, this regime has been known not to do what it is supposed to,” Ms Bagala said.
She added: “So my confidence is in ourselves, especially as the Opposition in Parliament because this came to light because of the Opposition.”

Yesterday, the Attorney General, Mr Kiryowa Kiwanuka, reiterated that the government would review the recommendations and announce the way forward later. 
He declined to comment on possibilities, and possible effects of litigation by the coffee company.
“I have read it and noted its contents. We have listened to the concerns. We have noted the concerns of Parliament and the people. We shall take the recommendations that have been given. We shall review them and report back to Parliament on the action taken,” Mr Kiryowa said.