The Observer (Kampala)

4 November 2012

Uganda: MP Cries Foul Over Anti-Corruption Bill

Prime Minister to face censure motion if he fails to take action on the permanent secretary to the OPM ( Resource: Uganda Parliament Plot to Censure Prime Minister

Ssimbwa says govt wants to replace his bill with watered-down version:

Makindye East legislator, John Ssimbwa, has promised fireworks as Parliament returns from recess to consider his private member's bill against corrupt officers, among other business.

Flanked by MPs Ssempala Mbuga (Nakaseke South) and Patrick Nsanja (Ntenjeru South), Ssimbwa recently moved a motion seeking leave of Parliament to table a private member's bill that if passed into law would allow arrogation of property of a person convicted of corruption. Property of such a person's next of kin could also be seized, according to the bill.

Ssimbwa told The Observer on Saturday that although the bill was embraced by majority of his colleagues, he has learnt that the government is trying to table an alternative watered- down version. Ssimbwa says this explains why the Finance minister hasn't given the promoters a financial certificate to enable Parliament press ahead with it.

Ssimbwa claimed that the minister of state for Ethics and Integrity, Fr Simon Lokodo, had in a bid to derail the process advised the ministry of Finance not to issue a financial certificate until such a time when the government is ready with its watered-down alternative bill. An ordinary MP intending to table a private member's bill with financial ramifications on government must first be cleared by the Finance minister.

Now that the House has reconvened, Ssimbwa expects MPs supporting the private member's bill to sign his petition, which is soon to be gazzetted. Ssimbwa expects up to 300 legislators to append their signatures to the petition before it is forwarded to the President.

"After our petition is delivered to the President, we expect his response and it is from his response that we will know who is for and against corruption," Ssimbwa said.

Ssimbwa revealed that some MPs attended a side meeting at Munyonyo last week and resolved to petition the President to come clean on his government's manoeuvres over the bill. The MPs include Alice Alaso (Serere Woman), Ssempala Mbuga (Nakaseke South), Alex Ruhunda (Fort Portal municipality), Rose Seninde (Wakiso Woman) and Simon Mulongo (Bubulo County East).

Ssimbwa says whereas their bill targets recovery of property from those convicted of corruption-related offences and their relatives, the one proposed by government is a general bill addressing recovery of properties of corrupt officers outside the country. However, Lokodo denies that he is trying to frustrate the private member's bill by influencing the decision of the Finance ministry.

"I only advised Ssimbwa to go slow on the bill because it might not work," Lokodo said.

But Ssimbwa insists that those fighting his idea, including Lokodo, have started alleging that it was drafted by the former Vice President, Prof Gilbert Bukenya, to fight Museveni and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi for their alleged role in his arrest and imprisonment over Chogm expenditures.

"The fact is, Prof Bukenya does not even know the contents of the bill. This was my initiative with the assistance of some foreign experts and my two colleagues Nsanja and Mbuga," Ssimbwa said.

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