In Summary

Referring to the President’s attack on her for stopping the UPE/USE inquiry, the Speaker says she did not pass the resolution as an individual.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga yesterday defended the House decision to stop activities of a commission of inquiry into allegations of financial impropriety in the education sector.

The commission was appointed by President Museveni to investigate the operations of Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE) in the country.

While Ms Kadaga mentioned the President with reservations, she said she was reacting to “uncoordinated” media reports in which Mr Museveni attacked her for stopping the inquiry.

Mr Museveni last week criticised the Speaker but Ms Kadaga yesterday reminded the President that the resolution that stopped the inquiry did not come from the chair, reasoning that “a Speaker does not vote in the House, neither does he or she debate”.

Ms Kadaga, who addressed an impromptu news conference on the matter, said the February 14 House resolutions that halted the activities of the commission due to non-performance were unanimously supported by the Executive and legislators from both sides of the House.

Ms Kadaga did not take any questions from the journalists, claiming it was only a clarification.

The Speaker, who came with Education Minister Jessica Alupo’s statement to Parliament, said the decision was taken after the minister failed to explain why the commission had not produced a single report.

“According to the Hansard, the minister said: My office has not received a single interim report on any matter within the terms of reference. She went on to say, no credible progress on any terms of reference and therefore couldn’t have a substantive report to tender to Parliament,” the Speaker said.

“At the end of the resolution, the minister applauded the House for joining the President in demanding value for money. By Parliament referring the matter to the Parliamentary Committee on Social Services, it was to give a chance to members of the commission to be heard, in line with the right to a fair hearing.”

Ms Alupo last week denied she was to blame for the action, saying the MPs passed the resolution after an emotional debate. The President told the NRM caucus last week that Ms Kadaga went beyond her limits when she allowed Parliament to stop operations of a commission he set up.

The latest outburst casts light on a possible fall out between the Speaker and President in a long-standing contest between the Executive and Parliament in a battle for independence. Presidential Press Secretary Tamale Mirundi was unavailable for comment.

The commission, has spent at least Shs7 billion and is yet to make public its findings, 25 months after its inception.

The President constituted the five-member commission in November 2009 headed by Justice Ezekiel Muhanguzi and gave it a six-month deadline to produce a report. The tenure was, however, twice extended on request of the commission with the last extension having expired in June 2011.

Meanwhile, Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu jumped to the defence of the commission of inquiry in which he accused Education Permanent Secretary Francis Lubanga of frustrating the probe.

Mr Ssewungu demanded that Mr Lubanga be sacked for sabotage, adding that the President had already received three reports from the commission.

In a document signed by the commission secretary, Ms Ketrah Katunguka, to Premier Amama Mbabazi, the commission accuses the Education minister of ignoring their input during her brief to Parliament.

In the document, Ms Katunguka says the minister lied to Parliament that no interim reports have been submitted to the President, yet three reports have since been submitted. Ms Alupo was not available for comment.

Ms Katunguka’s letter, however, is dated February 13, yet the Parliament resolution was made a day after, posing a question on how she could have had a resolution of Parliament before it was made.