8 November 2012

Uganda: MPs Blame Museveni Over Shs 40 Billion Dura Saga

The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament wants President Museveni to take responsibility for the controversial award of $16.4m (Shs 40 billion) to Dura Cement.

In its draft report that follows a close to a year-long investigation into the controversial cancellation of the Dura Cement contract, which earned the company this compensation, PAC believes that the President was deeply involved in the process, which he directly influenced and ignored vital legal advice from Lucian Tibaruha, the Solicitor General at the time that cancelling the contract would have negative economic and financial consequences for Uganda.

"We are of no doubt that the President should be held culpable for the loss that came out of this bad deal," said a source that is privy to the committee's work. The PAC chairperson, Kassiano Wadri (Terego county), is reportedly out of the country, and his vice, Paul Mwiru (Jinja East), was reluctant to comment on the matter. He told The Observer that rules of procedure prohibit members from publicising committee reports before they have been tabled in the House.

Mwiru added, nonetheless: "When you observe the findings [of the investigation], you realise that the President will have to take responsibility for the loss."

According to the draft report, PAC made this recommendation on the basis of the finding that President Museveni wrote at least four letters giving directives on how the matter should be handled -- which directives, the committee observed, clearly violated procurement procedures as well as the roles of such institutions as the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA).

"Whereas Article 99(1) provides that the executive authority, as vested in the President, shall be exercised in accordance with this constitution and the laws of Uganda, in this deal it was violated," reads the draft report.

But since the constitution (Article 98[4]) provides for presidential immunity from criminal liability, Mwiru says if President Museveni is to take liability in the Dura case, it would have to be after he has left office. The Observer has learnt that the report is ready and PAC will present it to Parliament soon.

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