By Hannah Marion Namukasa
The Minister of State for Lands, Housing and Urban Development (Housing), Hon. Persis Namuganza, asked the committee investigating her to produce evidence to show that she undermined Parliament.
The minister on Tuesday, 13 September 2022, appeared before the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline following a directive from Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa for her to be investigated for allegedly questioning the integrity of the House.
The matter stemmed from a report of the Adhoc committee on the Nakawa-Naguru land giveaway that was unanimously adopted by Parliament on May 18, 2022.
The committee, in their report, recommended that Namuganza steps aside for falsifying a presidential directive that saw the Uganda Land Commission allocate the said land to a section of investors.
As she appeared before the adhoc committee, Namuganza reportedly questioned the treatment of investors and people who appear before parliamentary committees, equating it to a torture chamber.
“When we meet the President, sometimes he gives verbal instructions. But when you reach the committee and deliver the instructions, you are accused of concocting them without further inquiry. This is very unfortunate,” Namuganza was quoted saying.
However, legislators accused her of ridiculing Parliament and its leadership over the findings.
While before the rules committee alongside her lawyer, Norman Pande, Namuganza said that she had nothing to say about the allegations made against her on the Floor of Parliament since they hold no evidence.
Hon. Abdu Katuntu, the committee chairperson, said that there is no evidence to provide the Minister or her lawyers since the evidence is to be adduced during the investigation. This is after Namuganza insisted that evidence against her be presented first.
“What evidence do you require from us before we receive it? We are here to investigate. The evidence we are going to hear is later – we have not heard any single evidence before the committee,” he said.
Committee vice chairperson, Fr. Charles Onen, also told Namuganza that the only evidence before the committee is the Hansard that captures Bukooli Central MP, Solomon Silwany, Tororo Woman MP Sarah Opendi and other MPs reporting that the minister had questioned the integrity of Parliament in different statements captured by the media.
However, Namuganza insisted that she could not make any response to allegations made by the MPs since there is no evidence.
Atkins Katusabe, the Bukonzo West MP proposed that the committee can proceed with its investigations into the matter, noting that the captured response from the minister should be a denial of the allegations.
The vice chairperson directed the minister to appear on Wednesday, 14 September 2022 together with the witnesses who had raised the matter on the Floor of Parliament.