The State Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms Persis Namuganza, yesterday stormed out of a meeting with Parliament’s Committee on Rules, Discipline and Privileges
The committee is probing the Junior minister’s alleged indiscipline. Ms Namuganza is accused of making negative statements against the Ad hoc Committee which faulted her for allegedly unlawfully manipulating the allocation of plots on the Nakawa-Naguru land.
When the meeting began at 11.20am, Ms Namuganza demanded that the committee first deal with two urgent issues before commencing the probe.
According Ms Namuganza, the committee did not have a right to hear the case of her alleged indiscipline as it was being challenged before the Court of Appeal.
“I petitioned the Speaker of Parliament as the person who made the ruling in respect of the sub judice claim and I am still awaiting a response from her,” Ms Namuganza said.
She added: “You summoned me to appear here by your powers under Article 90 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda of 1995. The same Article  gives you powers to order the production of documents by any witness, which is a requirement of fair hearing.”
When a case is under sub judice (judicial consideration), the decorum states it should not be discussed outside court.
In response, the committee deputy chairperson, Mr Charles Onen (Gulu East), said the reason why she had been invited to yesterday’s probe was to listen to the witnesses.
Mr Bosco Okiror (Usuk County) admitted that no evidence had been tendered before the committee by those who made the allegations.
“So, it would only be appropriate for the accusers to be allowed to demonstrate their facts [during the interface] which would be available to her at an opportune time,” he said.
He added that the petition has never been received by the office of the Speaker.
When Ms Namuganza kept going back and forth with the committee members, Mr Onen ruled that they would proceed with or without her.
“I cannot participate in an illegality. I cannot continue on with this,” a visibly angry Ms Namuganza said while hurriedly picking up her bag and storming out of the committee room followed by her lawyers.
The probe went on with the witnesses giving respective statements.
The witnesses include Mr Solomon Silwany (Bukooli Central), Ms Sarah Opendi (Tororo woman MP), Mr Elijah Okupa (Kasilo County), and Mr Maurice Kibalya (Bugabula South).
On July 19, Mr Silwany, the main witness on the matter, accused Ms Namuganza of taking to the press and social media to undermine the work of Parliament.
Ms Namuganza allegedly wrote: “….And these so-called Ad hoc Committees, all the time, we have substantive committees of Parliament. They should be the ones that handle matters that fall under their responsibilities. Why Ad hoc? As if they are hired by the Speaker to embarrass….”
Ad hoc committees are appointed by the House [on advise of the Business committee] to investigate matters of public importance that do not come under any jurisdiction of any standing or sectoral committee.
Parliament, in May, adopted the Ad hoc Committee approval seeking to hold the minister accountable for reportedly unlawfully manipulating the allocation of plots on the Nakawa-Naguru land.
The probe continues today with more witnesses expected to interface with the Committee. They include Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda (Kira Municipality), Asuman Basalirwa (Bugiri Municipality), John Amos Okot (Agago North County) and Geofrey Macho (Busia Municipality).