Today in Parliament/ 2nd April 2024

UPDATES FROM PARLIAMENT, TUESDAY 2ND APRIL 2024: Among, Tayebwa Visit Bulange to Support HIV/AIDS Fight; Finance Ministry tasked on nursery tea operator’s compensation;Tayebwa applauds BoU decision on Stanbic Bank CEO change.

Dear Friends,

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

This is an update from the Parliament of Uganda marking the 19th Sitting of the 3rd Meeting of the 3rd Session of the 11th Parliament. This Sitting was chaired by the Deputy Speaker Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa. In his communication, the Speaker urged all 529 MPs to participate in the Kabaka birthday run, as all kits have been provided by Buganda Caucus members. “The Buganda caucus has bought a kit for each MP, so there is no reason for you not to run. If you don’t go to run, please refund that money so that we can take it to Mengo. If you can’t run, contribute in another way”, he said. Tayebwa also paid tribute to the late Brig. Gen. Stephen Kiggundu, the Deputy Commander of UPDF Air Force,who died in his bathroom on Sunday.

Reacting to the Speaker’s communication, Hon. Muwanga Kivumbi Muhammad (MP, Butambala County, Butambala District, NUP) who also doubles as the Chair, Buganda Parliamentary Caucus stated that Parliament’s support for the Kabaka Birthday Run is a positive step toward consolidating national unity, nourishing, and growing Uganda. He also thanked all MPs who joined Speaker Among during the visit to Mengo. “Small endeavors of such nature go a long way towards consolidating our national unity and nourishing and growing our country Uganda”, Kivumbi said. Following Jacob Kiplimo’s victory at the 2024 World Athletics Cross Country Championships, the Leader of Opposition, Hon. Ssenyonyi Joel Besekezi, urged the government to prioritize sports infrastructure development in the country. He further called for timely construction and equipment of Akii-bua Stadium, in memory of Ugandan athletes. “As parliament, we need to take sports more seriously. Sometimes, we think it’s a leisure activity, but it’s serious stuff. That’s why whenever athletes go out there and shine, our country is in the news for good reasons. We want to remind the government that in recognition of these athletes we are celebrating today, can we construct Akii-bua Stadium and have it completed soon”, the LOP said.

Responding to the LOP, the Government Chief Whip, Hon. Denis Hamson who also doubles as the (MP, Ajuri County, Alebtong District, NRM) stated that support for the sports sector has been incremental. “At the time of Covid-2019, the budget of the sports sector came down from Shs25 billion to Shs17 billion and further to Shs10 billion, but this parliament has since increased the sports budget to Shs47 billion”, he said.

Raising on matters of national importance, Hon. Omara Paul (MP, Otuke County, Otuke District, NRM) requested Parliament to support the Bank of Uganda’s decision to require Stanbic Bank Uganda to hire a Ugandan national as the next Chief Executive Officer to replace Anne Juuko. He noted that Uganda has people with the qualifications to take on the job, despite the fact that such a lucrative position should be given to a foreigner, and that the Bank plays an important role in Uganda’s financial sector. “Uganda has people with the qualifications to take on the job, despite the fact that such a lucrative position should be given to a foreigner, and that the Bank plays an important role in Uganda’s financial sector”, he said. In response, the Deputy Speaker supported Uganda’s Bank Of Uganda in rejecting the appointment of a non-Ugandan as CEO of Stanbic Bank Uganda. He argued that Uganda should follow Kenya and South Africa’s lead in protecting Ugandan workers by reserving such lucrative positions for their own nationals. “Stanbic Bank was in the hands of a Ugandan, Patrick Mweheire, it performed very well. The brought in a female, young Ugandan lady, it also performed exceedingly very well. Now the question of bringing in a non-Ugandan to a Bank which we entrusted our biggest assets & most of our money, you would ask yourself why? If Ugandans were performing badly, you would have an issue. There is no foreigner who can go to Kenya and become a Managing Director of the Bank. In South Africa where Stanbic is coming from, there is no foreigner who is the Managing Director of any Bank, why Uganda?”, Tayebwa said. “I want to support the Central Bank for rejecting the non-Ugandan who was nominated because when the Bank performs well, now they want to take it back themselves. Otherwise, let them give us a swap, let a Ugandan be the Managing Director in another country then they come here. Some of us support the central Bank, it was right to reject the foreigner to come and be”, he added.

Hon. Ebwalu Jonathan (MP, Soroti West Division, Soroti City, INDP) stated that Teso war claimants have not yet received their livestock compensation benefits. “I would like the Attorney General to bring a schedule of payments for people of Teso who lost their property and also bring a progress report of payment for not only Teso but also Lango and Acholi sub-regions”, he said. In response, the Attorney General, Hon. Kiryowa Kiwanuka didn’t agree with Hon. Ebwalu, claiming that some payments were made and that a report on the matter was submitted to Parliament. He said, ” It’s not correct that we are not doing anything [on cattle compensation], in fact, we were required to submit a report on all payments made in cattle compensation and I am absolutely certain because I presented them to Parliament myself”. He added that he would meet with all MPs from Teso, Lango, and Acholi to resolve all issues concerning cattle compensation to war claimants.

Hon. Okot John Amos (MP, Agago North County, Agago District, NRM) later presented a petition on behalf of the community of Lapono and Lira Kato sub-counties in Agago North against land grabbers of their customary land. In response, the Deputy Speaker referred the petition to the Minister of Lands for redress and will report back to the House within 30 days.

The House later considered a report of the Committee on Education and Sports on the phasing out of comprehensive nursing certificate and diploma courses by the Ministry of Education and Sports. This was presented by Hon. Lokwang Philips Ilukol (MP, Napore West County, Karenga District, NRM) According to the Committee report, the Ministry of Education and sports should have reviewed and improved the Comprehensive Nursing course curriculum to ensure students receive the necessary knowledge and skills. “While Government took a decision to phase out the academic programme, no conclusive baseline research was conducted to confirm it as an irrelevant field of study in healthcare service delivery in the country”, he said. Moving forward, the Committee on Education proposed that the Ministry of Education and Sports reconsider its decision to discontinue Certificate and Diploma Comprehensive Nursing courses in favor of strengthening the curriculum.

Reacting to the report, Hon. Chrysostom Muyingo, State Minister for Higher Education, stated that while the matter has been overtaken by events since the courses were phased out in 2020, much has been accomplished, including revising the curriculum to meet the needs of the job market. Hon Kubeketerya James (MP, Bunya East County, Mayuge District, NRM) proposed an amendment requiring the Ministry of Education and Sports to consult with stakeholders, including Parliament, before rescinding the decision. The proposal was approved, and the report was adopted by the House.

The Deputy Chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture, Hon. Auma Linda Agnes who also doubles as the (DWR, Lira District, NRM) also presented a committee report on a petition filed by Zombo tea nursery operators and the farmer’s association regarding the delayed supply of tea seedlings to farmers in the district. The Committee recommended that the government explore ways to improve market access for tea farmers in the country. The Committee also recommended that the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries create capacity-building programs for local farmers in tea agronomy. Based on the availability of land, Hon. Auma noted that government should disburse Shs19.5 billion to expedite the establishment of a tea factory in Zombo.

Reacting to the report, the LOP, Hon. Ssenyonyi Joel Besekezi noted that the government ought to compensate the tea nursery operators since they were verified and given ago a head to grow the seedlings.

Finally, the House received two reports from the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on the petition against the alleged irregular recruitment and mainstreaming process of staff from the former Uganda Rural Electrification Agency into the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, and a petition of former employees of UETCL. The two reports were presented by Hon. Angura Fredrick (MP, Tororo County South, Tororo District, NRM) Hon. Angura noted that some former employees who were terminated did not receive their retirement benefits from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development in Uganda. As a result, the Committee recommended that the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and the Ministry of Finance Planning & Economic Development expedite the payment of retirement and pending benefits for all terminated REA employees. On the petition regarding the alleged gross mismanagement of UETCL , The Committee on Environment and Natural Resources recommended that UETCL prioritise the development and strengthening of its internal human resource capacity by hiring qualified personnel. The Committee further recommended that UETCL review its Human Resource Manual for future recruitments and promotions. ” The Committee notes that though it is unfortunate that staff lost their employment, no procedural breach was attributed to UETCL , and thus recommends that UETCL should hasten the process to clear all outstanding entitlements to the aggrieved staff and considers re-employing them in any new projects that it may take-up”, he said.

Reacting on the issue of UETCL employees whose contracts were terminated, State Minister for Energy Hon. Sidronius Okaasai told Parliament that all outstanding terminal benefits had been paid. On absorption of REA staff whose contracts were terminated, Minister Okaasai stated that 85% of REA staff with the necessary qualifications had been absorbed after their contracts expired. The two reports were later adopted by the House with amendments.

The Speaker afterward adjourned the House to Wednesday 3rd April 2024 at 2:00PM

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