By Andrew Irumba
Though a section of key opposition figures headed by LoP Betty Aol Ochan and Mubarak Munyagwa (Kawempe) are pushing for an immediate boot out of the Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri county) led parliamentary probe committee on BoU saga over the sale and closure of seven Banks, a wider section of the NRM members of Parliament who are the majority are backing Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s legally-binding suggestion to have the committee’s tenure extended to February 20, 2019, to complete its work.
The proponents argue that Mr Katuntu and his deputy Anita Among (Bukedea) have steered the committee’s hearings smoothly and a new leadership would disrupt the ‘good’ work so far, and probably alter the report for suspicious ulterior motives, since Katuntu is not in good books with the current Najanankumbi leadership.
“My friend, these are politicians first of all. One can just decide to undo the good works of his predecessor in order to prove appoint or just to deem his (Katuntu) achievements. Have you forgotten US’ Donald Trump with Barrack Obama? Or even come back here in Uganda,… which president accepts that his predecessor did anything good? That would mean that you entered into big shoes against which you may be weighed,” a Makerere University don and researcher who spoke on condition anonymity told this reporter on phone on Monday.
The speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kagada, last week wrote to the leader of opposition Betty Aol Ochan where she supported the idea of extending the term for the current Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) to finalize its probe work on BoU before handing over to the new leadership headed by Kawempe MP Munyagwa Mubarak and deputized by Rubaga North MP Moses Kasibante.
The term was extended by two more weeks which ends in Feb 2019.
However, those opposed to the extension of the tenure beyond January 13th when it was to end nofficially, argue that a new committee chair wouldn’t in anyway affect the outcome of the final report.
Mr Peter Mugema (Iganga NRM) said the change of leadership should wait for the Cosase probe report to be written.
“The extension he (Mr Katuntu) requested for is not long. They (FDC) are only being ungrateful for the work he has done for both the party and Parliament,” Mr Mugema said.
The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Opposition party has forwarded Kawempe South MP Mubarak Munyagwa’s name as a replacement for Mr Katuntu.
The guidance issued by Ms Kadaga in a request to the Leader of Opposition in Parliament to delay the changes in the committee’s leadership, is premised on the need for comprehensive conclusion of Cosase’s ongoing inquiry into alleged irregularities by Bank of Uganda during the closure of seven commercial banks.
Mbarara Municipality MP Michael Tusiime (NRM) said the push for change of Cosase leadership is being propelled by the FDC’s internal party disagreements.
“I dislike the political undertone. When we are doing work, we do it as Parliament. If this work is going to be subdued by politics, then it is unfortunate,” he said.
The committee resumes the BoU probe on January 8, 2019, five days to the end of its current tenure.
Ms Agnes Kunihira (Workers, NRM) argued it would be wrong to change leadership at “a sensitive period” when the committee is handling a crucial matter which requires someone who has been keenly following the proceedings.”
Ms Among last week said they would only heed to the Speaker’s guidance which has already endorsed the extension.
Mr Elijah Okupa (FDC, Kasilo County) said those opposed to the extension will have to seek legal alternatives.
“That matter was suspended by the Speaker till end of February and the Speaker’s ruling is final. If anyone wants to challenge it, they should follow the rules on how to challenge the speaker’s ruling,” said Okupa.
The closed banks include; Teefe Bank (1993), International Credit Bank Ltd (1998), Greenland Bank (1999), The Co-operative Bank (1999), National Bank of Commerce (2012), Global Trust Bank (2014) and Crane Bank Ltd (CBL) that was sold to dfcu in 2016.