In May, the Adhoc committee investigating the giveaway of Nakawa-Naguru land recommended that Namuganza steps aside for falsifying a presidential directive that led to the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) to allocate the land to a section of investors. But Namuganza reportedly questioned the treatment of investors and people who appear before parliamentary committees, equating it to a torture chamber.
A section of MPs led by Bukooli Central MP, Solomon Silwanyi and Tororo Woman MP, Sarah Opendi accused Namuganza of ridiculing Parliament and its leadership over the findings.
Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa then directed the committee to investigate the Minister.
In their statements before the committee last week, Silwanyi and Opendi said that the Minister had questioned the integrity of parliament through statements made in a WhatsApp group of Members of the 11th Parliament. The two told the committee that the whatsapp group administrators were Parliament’s Communications and Public Affairs (CPA) Director, Chris Obore, the Acting Principle Information Officer, Charles Bukuwa, and the Deputy Assistant Editor Hansard, Moses Bwalatum.
Appearing before the committee on Wednesday, the three parliament staff presented printed WhatsApp messages of the Minister and also displayed them on a screen in the committee room.
Fr. Charles Onen, the Rules Committee Vice Chairperson questioned the officials on the purpose of forming the WhatsApp group and its membership. The MPs also asked whether the printed messages were actually posted by Minister Namuganza and what action was taken.
Onen wondered whether the WhatsApp administrators had cautioned the group members against such action.
Catherine Mavenjina, the MP representing the Elderly from Northern Region wondered whether it was possible for parliament staff to warn or caution since they are superior to the staff.
Obore said that they could not eject MPs with a questionable character from the WhatsApp group or even caution them since they are superior to parliamentary staff.
He instead appealed to the committee to pick interest in the House of Commons Ethical code of conduct for Members of Parliament, saying that this looks beyond the language MPs use, and how they transact business, among others.
Obore said that they can simply remain administrators of the group and that they believe that MPs are national leaders, who can engage in debate and disagree without becoming emotional or abusive.
But Dokolo Woman MP, Cecilia Ogwal said that although the parliamentary staff is subordinate to MPs, they remain technical and are allowed to advise Members of Parliament.
Besides the WhatsApp group messages, the committee also viewed video recordings of Namuganza which were aired on NTV. The video was submitted by NTV Head of News, Julian Mwine upon its request by the committee.
In her earlier appearance before the Rules Committee, Namuganza declined to respond to the statements she made against parliament without evidence.