Namuganza snubs censure probe committee
What you need to know:
- The seven-member committee instituted by Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa in a special plenary sitting last week, was given 15 days to investigate and reports back to the House, tentatively on January 24.
State minister for Lands, Ms Persis Namuganza, was no show as the ad-hoc committee investigating her alleged misconduct and contempt of Parliament commenced on Thursday.
The seven-member committee instituted by Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa in a special plenary sitting last week, was given 15 days to investigate and reports back to the House, tentatively on January 24.
Following her absence, the committee clerk informed members that Ms Namuganza had been served and there was proof of receipt.
“Copies of the summons were sent to the Ministry of Lands. I also shared the same to her email address, as well as her WhatsApp line which shows blue ticks. The letter was copied to the Rt. Hon Prime Minister and the Government Chief Whip and there’s evidence that they all received their copies,” the clerk said.
The committee chairperson, Mr Mwine Mpaka, (Mbarara City South MP) said the proceedings would go on with or without the minister’s appearance. He was, however, quick to note that the case is prima facie and therefore, the minister is innocent until proven otherwise after examining the evidence presented.
“Based on the clerk’s communication, the honourable minister was served, the reasons she has not come are still unknown but the committee will proceed ex-parte. She is supposed to attend tomorrow (Friday) as well to defend herself against whatever will be presented here,” Mr Mpaka said.
The Thursday proceedings kicked off with presentations from the mover of the censure motion, Mr Amos Okot (Agago North County) and the seconders Mr Dan Kimosho (Kazo County), Mr Gilbert Olanya (Kilak South) and Mr Yona Musinguzi (Ntungamo Municipality MP).
Mr Okot’s motion was premised on a report by the committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline, which recommended that Ms Namuganza be censured, a proposal that was upheld by the majority of the legislators in a plenary session last month.
While presenting the various clips, mostly media interviews and articles where Ms Namuganza is alleged to have put the House into disrepute, Mr Okot said censuring the minister would restore public confidence in the legislative arm of government and thus send a message to all other leaders to always adhere to the standards, behavior and conduct under House’s rules of procedure.
“Honourable Members, it is my firm belief that restoring the sanctity, independence and dignity of Parliament is a responsibility of all of us,” he said.
However, some committee members were concerned that among the pieces of evidence presented by Mr Okot are previous feuds in which Ms Namuganza had been involved, including one with former Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga and former land probe chairperson, Ms Catherine Bamugemereire.
“Some of the evidence being produced is from the 10th Parliament. I want the mover of the motion to clarify if the censure is based on the conduct in the 10th or 11th Parliament,” Mr Wilfred Nuwagaba (Ndorwa East) submitted.
Mr Kimosho, however, said it was necessary to dig out the ‘history’ as this would help the committee make a firm decision.
“I request the committee to take interest in the history of the person. It will help us make a decision. The Honourable Minister has consistently put this House to disrepute,” he contended.
Mr Musinguzi said it would be only be prudent for minister to take responsibility and just resign, as the evidence is already “overwhelming.”
Mr Mwine quickly interjected and advised members to avoid statements of bias as the probe was just starting.
“The minister is innocent and the burden of proof lies with the movers of the motion,” Mr Mwine counselled.
Ms Namuganza, who is also the Bukono County MP (Namutumba District), is accused of going to social media and mainstream media to undermine the operations of Parliament and questioning the powers and integrity of the House’s Adhoc Committee, which faulted her for unlawfully manipulating the allocation of plots on the Nakawa-Naguru land.
Before all of this, Ms Namuganza had been given an opportunity to bury the hatchet by apologising to the House, which she blatantly rejected.