UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | The ad-hoc committee investigating the alleged misconduct and contempt of Parliament by State Minister for Lands, Hon Persis Namuganza, commenced on Thursday January 12, 2023. However, Ms Namuganza was no show at the proceedings.
Following her absence, the committee clerk informed MPs 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 informed MPs.
The seven-member committee set in motion by Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa has been given 15 days to investigate the misconduct allegations and report back to the House, tentatively on January 24, 2023.
The committee chairperson, Mr Mwine Mpaka, (Mbarara City South MP) confirmed the proceedings would go on with or without Ms Namuganza’s attendance. However, Mr Mpaka was quick to point out that the case is prima facie and therefore, the minister is innocent until proven otherwise.
“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 Mr Amos Okot (Agago North County), the mover of the censure motion, 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. The censure motion was upheld by a majority vote of the legislators last month.
Ms Namuganza’s woes began after she was deemed to have held the House in contempt when she reportedly used “unfriendly” language while referring to Parliament on her social media accounts and in media interviews.
Mr Okot presented various media clips, mostly media interviews and articles, showing where Ms Namuganza is alleged to have put the House into disrepute. He said censuring the minister would restore public confidence in the legislative arm of government, and thus send a clear message to all other leaders to always adhere to the standards of 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 the evidence presented by Mr Okot included previous feuds involving Ms Namuganza, such as one with Ms Rebecca Kadaga, former Speaker of Parliament, and Ms Catherine Bamugemereire, former land probe chairperson.
“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,” submitted Mr Wilfred Nuwagaba (Ndorwa East).
Mr Kimosho, however, rebutted that it was necessary to bring forth the ‘history’ as this would assist the committee in making 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 remarked that the evidence is already “overwhelming,” and therefore it would be only be prudent for minister to take responsibility and just resign.
To this, Mr Mwine quickly interjected and advised members to avoid statements of bias, particularly as the probe was just beginning.
“The minister is innocent and the burden of proof lies with the movers of the motion,” counselled Mr Mwine.
Ms Namuganza, who is also the Bukono County MP (Namutumba District), is accused undermining the operations of Parliament in social media and mainstream media. She is also accused of questioning the powers and integrity of the House’s Adhoc Committee, which found Ms Namuganza guilty of abuse of her powers after she allegedly directed the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) to influence the allocation of land to some individuals.
Ms Namuganza had been given the opportunity to avoid the proceedings being brought against her by atoning for her actions and apologising to the House, which she blatantly refused.
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