State Minister for Housing Persis Namuganza has been summoned before the rules committee of Parliament over demeaning sentiments she made against the Parliament of Uganda.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa directed the committee to investigate Namuganza for allegedly questioning the integrity of the House. The matter started with a report by the Adhoc committee on the Nakawa-Naguru land that was unanimously adopted by Parliament on May 18, 2022.
The committee recommended that Namuganza steps aside for falsifying a presidential directive that saw the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) allocate the said land to a section of investors. But Namuganza reportedly questioned the treatment of investors and people who appear before the committee, 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.
Rules Committee Vice Chairperson Fr. Charles Onen demanded that the Minister appears before the committee in person on Tuesday to respond to accusations against her. Earlier, Namuganza’s lawyer Norman Pande had appeared before the committee today to explain that matters regarding the alleged abuse of office by the Minister were before the courts.
Pande also said that the Minister was attending a Cabinet meeting and that she could not appear before the committee as scheduled.
However, Onen said that his committee was only concerned with a case of misconduct by the Minister and directed the lawyers to ensure that the Minister appears on Tuesday to respond to issues raised against her.
Last month, the High Court in Kampala dismissed the Minister’s application seeking to quash the Ad-hoc Committee report on the Naguru-Nakawa land, on grounds that she was condemned without being heard. The Minister told the Court that she had been declared to have abused her office on a report which was biased, inconsistent and lacked proper assessment.
The Court heard that the Ad-hoc committee report did not contain the purported letter and minutes that Namuganza based on to direct ULC to allocate land to different individuals and companies which would have guided them in their debate as to either to adopt or disregard it. She had asked the Court to compel the Attorney General to pay 1 billion Shillings to her as damages.
In response, the Attorney General asked the court to dismiss Namuganza’s case saying she cannot challenge a recommendation of Parliament pending debate and consideration by the Executive to assess whether or not to implement it.
Justice Musa Ssekaana then said that Namuganza’s application failed because she did not set out any evidence to prove that she was not given a fair hearing by the Ad-hoc committee apart from merely alleging. He dismissed her application and ordered each party to bear its costs.
Nakawa-Naguru Land Report Findings
In January 2022, the ULC revised earlier allocations of land at Nakawa-Naguru and distributed 15 acres to the Internal Medicine of Virginia, 10 acres to Uganda Heart Institute, 3.09 acres to KCCA Nakawa Division offices, 1 acre to Naguru Infant Primary School, 1.05 acres to St. Peters Church of Uganda, 2 acres Ntinda Whole Sellers 2 acres and others.
Other beneficiaries were investors Anil Damani 3 acres, Seven Hills Apartments 4 acres, Arab Oil Supplies and Exploration Limited 4 acres, Dashen (U) Limited 3 acres, Dembe Enterprises Limited 3 acres, Dominion Partners Limited 1 acre, EACOM International Limited 1 acre, Rudra Hardware 4 acres, and others.
The Adhoc committee observed that a review of the land application data established that Minister Persis Namuganza, the then Minister of State for Lands, brought to the attention of ULC ‘Presidential directives’ for allocation of land to entities yet such presidential directives were not documented, traced or even availed to the committee.
“A case in point is a letter dated January 24, 2020, the Minister brought to the attention of the Chairperson ULC, entities and persons whom the President is purported to have issued directives for allocation of land. These entities included Anil Damani, Seven Hills and Princeton Children’s Medical Centre,” read part of the committee report.
Dan Kimosho, the Kazo County MP told parliament that these ‘Presidential Directives’ were non-existent and Anil Damani denied ever writing the letter to the Minister and the signature appended to it.