New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: OPM Probe to Resume After Speaker U-Turns Decision

The Speaker of Parliament on Friday okayed the continuation of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) probe into the alleged financial impropriety in the Office of the Prime minister (OPM).

Committee chairman Kassiano Wadri said the Speaker let the probe proceed with the hearing of only witnesses who don't have cases preferred against them in court.

"I held a meeting with the Speaker [Rebecca Kadaga] and she okayed the probe into the alleged financial impropriety in the office of the Prime minister," he confirmed.

PAC expects to resume winding up of the probe on February 26 later this month. Though, according to the committee chairperson, "we are yet to determine which witness to start with."

Last Tuesday, Kadaga directed the committee to halt the probe into the alleged financial abuse in the office of the Prime Minister.

This followed a protest from the Director of Public Prosecutions Richard Buteera, where he argued that continued appearance of witnesses and accused persons before PAC is highly prejudicial to the ongoing criminal proceedings before court.

Asked why the Speaker reversed her decision, Kassiano said Article 64 of the Constitution gives her mandate to do so.

The committee is to invite the minister for Karamoja affairs - the First Lady - Janet Museveni and Premier Amama Mbabazi to give their views on what has been going on.

Relatedly, PAC will also invite the proprietor of Farm Engineering Limited, a company contracted to plough in northern Uganda .

But Kassiano did not elaborate whether the meeting was initiated by Kadaga or himself.

The committee he chairs has invited the First Lady, in her capacity as the minister for Karamoja, to clear her name regarding allegations about trips she made to Israel several times in one month.

The travels expenses are alleged to have amounted to sh143.6m.

According to Kassiano, PM Mbabazi will explain his political and supervisory role in his office..

The committee wants him to explain the allegations that he diverted money meant for northern Uganda and Karamoja to instead purchase his Benz.

Over sh30bn of donor funds to Uganda were siphoned until the government instituted measures to stop theft of monies meant for a host of rehabilitation programmes in northern Uganda.

The interdicted principal accountant in the Prime Minister's office Geoffrey Kazinda is currently in court battling the charges.

Mid this week, the Permanent Secretary in the same office - Pius Bigirimana - testified that Kazinda forged his signature several times to withdraw huge amounts of money from Bank of Uganda.

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