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Inside Story: Iron sheets scandal in Uganda, Karamoja MPs move to censure minister

Ms Kitutu is accused of failure to deliver iron sheets and other suplies meant for Karamoja and the diversion of some items to non-intended beneficiaries. Karamoja Parliamentary Group Legislators have testified against nine Ministers.

Kampala, Uganda | Bazzup News| Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Karamoja Sub-region have begun the process to reprimand the minister responsible for Karamoja Affairs, Ms. Mary Goretti Kitutu, amid claims that she diverted relief supplies intended for the region’s most vulnerable residents. Karamoja Parliamentary Group Legislators have testified against nine Ministers who allegedly shared relief iron sheets which were meant to benefit vulnerable people and reformed cattle rustlers.

The MPs, in accordance with rule 109 of the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure, presented a notice of motion to censure, the first stage in the process of censurating a minister, to the Speaker’s and the Clerk to Parliament’s offices on February 22, 2023.

According to the announcement, Ms. Kitutu allegedly failed to deliver the iron sheets and other items intended for Karamoja to support the ongoing disarmament exercise and transferred some of the items to unintended beneficiaries. .

MPs argued that these constituted mismanagement and abuse of power or knowingly breached the oath of allegiance or oath of office. These are some of the grounds provided for in Section 118 of the Constitution under which a Minister can be removed from office.

Parliament passed in 2021 an additional budget of Ugx 39 billion to purchase 100,000 corrugated iron sheets for unarmed youth and vulnerable people in the subregion, but these have yet to be delivered.

Faith Nakut, Napak’s congresswoman, said she opted for censorship after asking the president to move the minister to another registry was not approved.

While other ministers and senior civil servants are said to have benefited from the diversion, Ms Kitutu, who led the heartbreaking case, is now at the center of the latest storm to rock the Prime Minister’s Office. (OPM).
OPM details show Ms. Kitutu left with 3,000 pieces of corrugated iron.

Earlier in February 2023, the State Anti-Corruption Unit was said to have arrested the minister’s relatives, who were found along with the papers. Sources said they were released on bail as investigations into the scandal continued, with the cooperation of OPM.

In an earlier statement calling for the minister’s resignation, MPs further accused the minister of misusing Ugx 25billion spent on purchasing goats for distribution in the subregion, as well as taking 500 bags of maize seed from Namalu stores in prison, as part of the Feed Karamoja project, in which 200 bags were found in his home.

Ms. Nakut explained that they chose to only censor Ms. Kitutu as the main supervisor of the ministry and for whom they say they have evidence. Several government officials have been accused of taking advantage of the good fortune. Regarding Deputy Minister Agnes Nanduttu, they said they would wait for an investigation because they did not have supporting evidence to censor her.

MPs have also poked holes in the defense of Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja’s role. Ms. Nabbanja wrote in a letter that not all of the papers mentioned were intended for Karamoja. She said different ministries are procuring items including iron plates for a specific intervention to address livelihood and infrastructure gaps.

Last month, the 11th National Assembly voted to reprimand the state’s Minister of Lands, Persis Namuganza, for his involvement in and handling of the controversial Nakawa-Naguru land dispute. President Museveni has yet to say anything about this.

A criticism is best expressed as a manifestation of Parliament’s disapproval of the appointing authority of the appointee and does not mandate any specific action even though the President may remove an executive member from office. In addition, censorship can strain the working relationship between the parliament house and censored officials.

John Bosco Ngoya, secretary of the Karamoja parliamentary group, who is also a member of the Bokora district, said that censorship would prevent government officials from abusing the positions they hold. Censorship Process.

Section 118(1)(b) of the Constitution provides that Parliament may, by resolution, vote of no confidence in a minister on [given] grounds, including abuse of office or willful intent. violate the oath of allegiance or oath of office.

In accordance with the rules of procedure, the secretary of parliament, within three days of receipt of a critical comment, shall notify parliament by pinning the opinion on a bulletin board, and draft a critical petition that backing legislators would have to sign. The signature collection process takes 10 business days. At least a third of the Members must sign the petition for it to be delivered to the House of Commons.

If, after the specified period of time, the required signatures have not been collected, the moderation notice will be invalidated. Collected signatures will be forwarded to the Secretary and Speaker within 24 hours and the Speaker is required to place the item on the Order Paper for the next business day. Proposals will then be forwarded to the President.

Fourteen days from the date of the petition to the President, the President appoints a selected committee to consider the matter, with various witnesses, including the minister in question, to appear. The Committee has 15 days to conduct its investigation and report back to the House for debate and the minister has the opportunity to present his defense.

After debate, the House of Commons votes on the petition and if it is passed, the Speaker will notify the Speaker within 24 hours of voting on the motion. According to the Constitution, in a vote of no confidence in a minister, the President must, unless the minister resigns, take appropriate measures in this regard. Upon receipt of the request, the President shall send a copy to the Minister concerned.

Motions to resolve censorship may not be contested until the 30-day period after the request is sent to the president.

About minister Kitutu.

  • Mary Goretti Kitutu was born in Manafwa District on September 17,  1962.
  • She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Geology from Makerere University, where she graduated in 1987.
  • The now Woman MP for Manafwa District since 2016 has previously served as State minister for Energy and Mineral Development from December 2019 to 2021. She also served as minister for Environment from June 2016 to December 2019.
  •  On LinkedIn, a virtual professional network, where she oddly still identifies as Minister for Energy, Ms Kitutu describes herself as a hard worker, because she has served in different government dockets for 35 years. “I have served under different government capacities and in different government entities since 1988 during my days as a teacher at Busoga College Mwiri, I have been an administrator, an employee, an employer and a hard working person,” she says.
  •  In the same bio, she pledges to serve “diligently with the faithfulness, patience, accountability, transparency and then repay the faith and powers vested in me to head this government office.”

Background to storm

In March 2022, the minister-in charge of the Ministry for Karamoja Affairs told this publication that the government was not allocating enough resources to address the issues dogging the Karamoja Sub-region.

At the time, the region was grappling with a resurgence in insecurity, and people were starving to death. This in addition to years of falling behind in general national development.

The ministry was thus established to guide the implementation of Special Programmes and Projects in the sub-region. In that Monitor report, the minister also said she had lost weight because of the pressure from her colleagues in other ministries, some of whom seem to think her ministry is not performing.

But nearly a year since her declaration, the minister is now in the eye of the storm, battling allegations of mismanagement and diversion of relief items acquired from the meager resources meant to help the people of Karamoja.

The legislators protested her appointment on the grounds that she did not understand the problems of Karamoja, because she is from another region.


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