17 February 2013

Uganda: MPs to Question Janet, Amama

After its largest graft inquiry got a new lease of life, Parliament's Public Accounts committee announced it wanted to interview Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and First Lady Janet Museveni, who is also the minister for Karamoja.

Speaking to The Observer on Saturday, a day after Speaker Rebecca Kadaga rescinded her decision to stop the three-month parliamentary investigation into the swindle of Shs 50bn from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) , PAC Chairman Kassiano Wadri said his committee would meet the three remaining witnesses as it moves closer to writing its report.

"We have been cleared and the investigations are going to resume after this week," Wadri said. Janet and Mbabazi are expected to appear starting on February 26.

Before the probe was suspended last Thursday, PAC had sought to meet Mbabazi and Janet, whose names are cited in the Auditor General's report. However, both officials separately informed PAC that they would not be available until later.

Mbabazi will be asked to explain how his official new Mercedes Benz was acquired. Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana reportedly used money from the Crisis Management Account to buy new cars for ministers in his office, including a brand new Mercedes Benz for Mbabazi. The premier will also explain allegations, levelled by Bigirimana, that he blocked the transfer of the key suspect in the swindle, former Principal Account Geoffrey Kazinda.

Ms Museveni is expected to explain her visits to Israel, which were allegedly funded with money meant to aid northern Uganda. A report by the Auditor General said the Ruhaama MP travelled nine times to Israel in one month last November using at least Shs 143.6m in donor funds. Wadri told journalists on Friday that, in clearing PAC, the speaker had urged the committee to avoid witnesses facing prosecution in court.

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