Today in Parliament/ 27th February 2024

UPDATES FROM PARLIAMENT, TUESDAY 27TH FEBRUARY 2024: Speaker Among directs Deputy Tayebwa to lead MPs to Lubowa hospital site; Parliament Dissolves National Records and Archives Agency; House pays tribute to fallen clan head

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the Africa Leadership Institute and the Parliament of Uganda!

This is an update from the Parliament of Uganda marking the 13th Sitting of the 3rd Meeting of the 3rd Session of the 11th Parliament. This Sitting was chaired by the Speaker Rt. Hon. Anitah Among. In her communication, the Speaker asked the government to explain why the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Ssenyonyi Joel, was denied access to the Lubowa specialized hospital construction site. She questioned the Executive’s reliance on Parliament to allocate funds without oversight to ensure value for money. “Yesterday, the Leader of Opposition, led a team to one of the institutions that we have given money, that is Lubowa hospital, to my surprise, I am told, which I am yet to confirm, I am told the team was denied access to see what is happening, where our money has gone and I think that is really unfortunate because we are doing what we are mandated to do as per the Constitution, we are doing our oversight role. So I think, as Government, you need to guide us should we just sit here, appropriate money we don’t see what is being done and we call it a day, remember this is taxpayers money”. she said. Moving forward Anitah Among tasked the Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, to lead a team to visit the site on Wednesday. The Speaker also led Parliament in paying tribute to Daniel Bossa, Head of Ndiga Clan in Buganda, who was shot dead over the weekend. She urged Ugandans with financial capacity to install CCTV cameras in their homes. The speaker also asked the government to implement incentives to make CCTVs affordable to all Ugandans. “I want to call upon the relevant security agencies, to thoroughly investigate the cause of this incident and in addition, we need to ensure that Police makes sure that all the CCTV cameras installed around are operational, we may just be looking at CCTV cameras when they aren’t working”. Among said. The Speaker added “We want to urge these people to ensure all the CCTV cameras are working so that we may be able to follow it up. And I want to plead with all Ugandans who can be able to afford CCTV cameras to equally put cameras around their homes but Gov’t should also come with an incentive by reducing the cost of the CCTV cameras so that everybody is able to have the CCTV”.

Reacting to the Speaker’s communication, the 3rd Deputy Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Nakadama Rukia Isanga who also doubles as the (DWR, Mayuge District, NRM) led the government in paying tribute to Bbosa, the leader of the Ndiga Clan, and promised to ask the Ministry of Internal Affairs to update Parliament on Uganda Police’s progress in installing CCTV cameras nationwide. “I want to add my voice and condole with the people of Ndiga clan for the loss of our dear brother. We are sorry for what happened but I know the culprits, since we have some, even the rest will be got. On the issue of cameras, I am going to call the Minister of Internal Affairs on how far and how much area has been covered and what is remaining”. she said. The LOP, Hon. Ssenyonyi Joel Besekezi who doubles as the (MP, Nakawa West Division, Kampala, NUP) on his part demanded that Parliament stop funding the construction of Lubowa Hospital. “Let’s halt paying any more money to Lubowa Hospital because they are not accountable”. he said. In a similar way, Hon. Rwabushaija Margret Namubiru (MP, Workers’ Representative) condemned the action of the Opposition from accessing Lubowa hospital site, wondering why the security forces found it necessary to arm themselves with guns, yet the MPs appeared on site unarmed, warning that such actions if not addressed would see Parliament’s oversight powers slip away from the Legislature’s hands. “Our oversight responsibility looks like it is slipping away from our hands and so, we need to demand once again, and let the other organs know that we are still MPs. It was so disheartening when I saw on Television a big team of MPs who were denied to enter and see and that was belittling Parliament. I think they are sealing it (Lubowa hospital site) off and nobody is going there, because it is a ghost. We don’t know what is happening because if there was some work going on, then there is nothing to fear. But also coming when they are armed and our MPs aren’t armed, it is threatening because one of these days, we might hear that someone has been shot at”. she said

Hon. Ongiertho Emmanuel Jor (MP, Jonam County, Pakwach District, FDC) wanted to know if it was time for Ugandans to forget about Lubowa Hospital. “I remember some time back, even the Health Committee went and they were denied access, the question that Government should answer is, is this facility being constructed? Let them answer and say No or Yes, and if we have to forget about it, we forget about it”. he said. Hon. Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda (MP, Kira Municipality, Wakiso District, FDC) also told Parliament that the government has paid an excess of US$70Mn (Shs276.166Bn) in uncertified work at Lubowa Hospital and the resident engineer deployed by Gov’t to secure the interests of Ugandans was chased away by Enrica Pinetti, the proprietor of Lubowa Hospital. “If you read the report of the Auditor General, the Auditor General John Muwanga reports that while Gov’t is supposed to have a resident engineer, that angel Pinetti has since chased the resident engineer. Her resident engineer is the one submitting requisitions to the Ministry of Finance to pay and the Auditor General says that actually, they have paid money for even work that hasn’t been certified by over US$70m (Shs276.644Bn)”. he said. He also called for the prosecution of all those who defended the controversial Lubowa hospital project, including then-Minister of State for Planning David Bahati, accusing him of pressuring Parliament to approve the promissory notes for Lubowa hospital under the guise that Uganda would be fined if it failed to meet its obligations under the contract signed with Pinetti. He added “I feel sad, the whole, David Bahati, then Minister of State for Planning was here putting Parliament on gun point we must approve this promissory note immediately, or else we are going to begin paying fines. There should be a time when these people are being marched to Luzira like the time of Amin. Minister Bahati’s warrant should find him at the gate in Luzira, how comes the ones violating the contract isn’t paying fines?”. He further questioned Rukia Nakadama’s (Third Deputy Prime Minister) claims that she would ask the Ministry of Health to allow MPs access to the Lubowa site, despite the fact that the project has since been transferred to the Prime Minister’s Office. “I did ask our Chairperson of Health Committee (Charles Ayume) why he wasn’t reporting on Lubowa Hospital and he told the Budget Committee that Lubowa has since been moved to the Office of the Prime Minister, it is no longer in the Ministry of Health. I am now shocked that Deputy Prime Minister Nakadama is now saying she is going to consult with the Minister of Health, maybe she meant another person and if you read the report of the Committee of Health, there is nothing about Lubowa”. he said

Hon. Ssemujju Nganda wondered why security forces abandoned their role in pursuing assailants who shot Bbosa to civilians, despite the fact that the same security forces turned out in large numbers when they learned that Leader of the Opposition, Joel Ssenyonyi, was visiting the Lubowa hospital site. “Initially part of the security, was blaming the boda bodas who cashed the suspects and killed some of them. Colleagues who are responsible for security should help us understand, how can someone be shot and for 3Kms or even more, it is wanaichi chasing the suspect and there is no Police? There is nobody in Kampala City, somebody is murdered in the broad day and it is wanaichi chasing and it is because of their anger and lack of training that they did what they did. So can we be told, where is security yet when the LoP reports at Lubowa, every minute there is security reporting, why are they not there when people are vulnerable and helpless?”. he added. The Speaker later requested clarification from Attorney General Kiwanuka Kiryowa regarding Parliament’s oversight role. “I want to find out from the Attorney General, is oversight still part of the role of Parliament or it was scrapped off?”. she said. In response, the Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka said “The last time I checked, it was still on the statute book and the only way it can be removed is through this House and I have been here often lately and I haven’t seen any such amendment. So, the oversight role of Parliament still exists”.

The Minister of Public Service, Hon. Muruli Mukasa later tabled the National Records and Archives (Amendment) Bill, 2024 for Second Reading. According to the Minister, the purpose of the Bill is to facilitate efficient and effective service delivery by clearly delineating the Ministry’s mandates and functions in relation to the agency, thereby avoiding duplication of mandates and functions; and to restructure and reorganize the National Records and Archives Agency by eliminating bloated structures and functional ambiguities. While presenting the committee report, Hon. Ojara Martin Mapenduzi , Chairperson of the Committee on Public Service said rationalizing the National Records and Archives Agency and integrating its functions into the Ministry of Public Service is appropriate.

Reacting to the Bill, Hon. Bwanika Abed (MP, Kimaanya – Kabonera division, Masaka City, NUP) said “The National Records & Archives Act was enacted in 2001 & it came into effect thereafter but we don’t hear the reason why the Ministry never operationalised this Agency. What constrained you from operationalising it?”. Hon. Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda (MP, Kira Municipality, Wakiso District, FDC) also supported the rationalization of agencies, but urged a unified approach, including merging ministries, to ensure a comprehensive approach. Parliament then passed the National Records and Archives (Amendment) Bill, 2024, which dissolves the National Records and Archives Agency and integrates its functions into the Ministry of Public Service. The National Records and Archives Agency’s mandate is to preserve and manage Uganda’s archival records, which represent the country’s documented heritage for cultural, research, and historical purposes.

Finally, Sector Ministers also withdrew rationalization Bills with defective financial implications certificates, awaiting correction before re-submitting them.

The Speaker afterwards adjourned the House to Wednesday, 28th February 2024 at 2:00PM

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