Since he fled to London last April, the army MP and coordinator of intelligence services, Gen David Sejusa, has been the subject of much debate.
Parliament's committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline, chaired by West Budama North MP Fox Odoi, has been conducting hearings on his absence from Parliament.
Last week, the committee heard from junior Defence Minister Gen Jeje Odongo, deputy Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Maj Gen Charles Angina, and army MP Gen Elly Tumwine. The Observer's Deo Walusimbi recorded the proceedings on Tuesday and Thursday, and here is a heavily abridged version:
After taking oath, lead counsel Simon Mulongo (Bubulo East MP) starts:
Mulongo: What do you know about Sejusa?
Jeje: Hon David Sejusa is a four-star general. His last deployment was as the coordinator of intelligence in the President's office.
Sseggona: We may want to know, has that appointment been revoked, having been the last deployment? Jeje: To the best of my knowledge not yet.
Mulongo: Could you inform us about the reporting lines of Gen Sejusa with regard to that appointment?
Jeje: As coordinator of intelligence, Gen Sejusa reports directly to the commander in chief.
Mulongo: What is the functional relationship between military intelligence and Gen Sejusa's work?
Jeje: He is a serving officer and, therefore, he is still organic to defence.
Mulongo: And at the same time you refer to the requirement that ordinarily he still has to make an appearance and report to the general headquarters.
Jeje: Because he also has functions which he performs within the general headquarters.
Mulongo: Could you elaborate on that?
Jeje: He is a member of the High Command, the Army Council.
Sseggona: When did Gen Sejusa last appear at the headquarters?
Jeje: I don't recollect exactly when we held the very last High Command meeting as well as the Army Council but it is maybe about six, seven months ago.
Sseggona: When did Gen Sejusa last attend?
Jeje: The very last one no, he did not attend.
Mulongo: So, when did he last attend?
Jeje: He attended the last but one.
Mulongo: And you don't remember when it took place?
Jeje: I can't say off hand.
Muhwezi: I think really you should go directly and ask Hon Odongo questions which are straightforward and related to this matter.
Mulongo: Now on the appointment of Sejusa as the coordinator of intelligence services were you copied in, the letter of appointment of Gen Sejusa as minister of state for Defence and can you elaborate on the terms and conditions of that appointment?
Jeje: Sejusa was appointed before I was appointed minister of state for Defence. If I got the record, I would get back to you later.
Mulongo: In this case, would you say that his leave of absence as an MP, as a coordinator of intelligence did not require him to inform you?
Jeje: As a member of UPDF, he was required to notify UPDF that he would not be available.
Mulongo: Could you refer to the specific areas which require him to report to UPDF?
Sseggona: To whom in particular in UPDF?
Jeje: The UPDF has a structure that a four-star general within UPDF headquarters is required to get the authority of Chief of Defence Forces before he travels out.
Mulongo: Which particular provision is that?
Jeje: I said, it is within UPDF Act, but I don't have documentation.
Mulongo: Is he even supposed to notify the CDF when he is going out of Kampala?
Jeje: I said outside the country.
Katuntu: Would you be informed if General Sejusa informed the commander in chief?
Jeje: In the general line of reporting, I wouldn't be because this is a commanding position and as a minister, I am not in a command line.
Katuntu: So you wouldn't be in a position to answer the question whether he did in this case or not.
Katuntu: I think we need to either distinguish it or make some similarities here, now that you are talking about the general command line. What is your relationship as the minister of Defence with a serving army officer?
Jeje: When you say what is your relationship that is very general.
Katuntu: Does he ever report to you, for example?
Jeje: He does not report to me as a minister.
Katuntu: Does he ever inform you of any of his duties performed?
Jeje: The command structure is such that officers report to the CDF and the commander in chief; I am not in the command structure.
Katuntu: So for this particular case, you seem not to be relevant to us because if we are investigating the absence of Sejusa from Parliament, the absence can only be explained by those in command structure not those in the ministry.
Mulongo: Are you aware that he is absent?
Jeje: Yes, as a minister, I am now aware that he is absent.
Mulongo: Since when?
Jeje: Since I had an opportunity to inquire from the CDF after reading in the media.
Sseggona: We want specifics on when you inquired from the CDF and what prompted you to make that inquiry?
Jeje: I have just stated that this matter came up in the media, I did not, as a responsible minister, just read it in the newspapers, I took the initiative, to ask the CDF, and that is when he told me that Gen Sejusa [was] reported missing.
Sseggona: Which CDF, because since this scenario began, we have had two, Aronda then, and we now have Katumba.
Jeje: General Katumba.
Sseggona: Did you find out why he did not attend [the] High Command meetings?
Jeje: He was on duty out of Kampala at the time the High Command sat.
Katuntu: Do we have a reporting mechanism for the UPDF MPs to their constituents?
Jeje: Members of the UPDF in Parliament have a caucus of their own, Chairman reports to the CDF.
Katuntu: They only report to the CDF?
Jeje: He uses the mechanism available, to disperse the information to where it is required.
Sseggona: Is it your evidence that other than one member, the head of the caucus reporting to the CDF, the individual army representatives have no mechanism of soliciting views from the ordinary membership of the UPDF?
Jeje: There is a mechanism which I have just explained. They report to the CDF, he organizes for them to meet the constituents.
Mulongo: What is the college of the constituents composed of?
Jeje: The Army Council.
Mulongo: Do they have a mechanism to address or talk to the Army Council?
Jeje: When the Army Council sits, they can use the mechanism I have just explained.
Sseggona: There is no mechanism you have explained, you talked about the CDF, and we are talking about the ordinary membership that do you report to those ordinary servicemen and women in the barracks?
Jeje: I think we have a perception problem here.
Katuntu: Don't accuse anybody here.
Jeje: I'm simply saying that the ten members of UPDF are a caucus themselves by virtue of the complicated nature of the army. The CDF represents the whole of UPDF and through his office, he organizes for these representatives, to meet with the constituents; the last time I remember they went to the various divisions to meet the constituents.
Muhwezi: For the record, the Hon Odongo said that he was told by the CDF that General Sejusa was missing and I think that is significant.
Mulongo: As a minister you said that ordinarily you wouldn't know if Gen Sejusa sought leave of the commander in chief to be absent.
Jeje: Ordinarily I wouldn't know... In the Army, if you are absent from the station of work beyond 21 days, you are counted as AWOL, absent without official leave.
Sseggona: Has he been classified as such?
Sseggona: As the minister responsible for this docket, have you received or seen any correspondence to that effect?
Jeje: Sometimes it is important to understand the relationship between my office and the general headquarters.
There is official and day-to-day contact. If I hear something for example in the newspapers and so on, I call the CDF to my office to clarify on what I have heard. So, this is how I got to know.
Odoi: Was there any message sent out to you that Gen Sejusa is AWOL?
Jeje: I have not seen a message.
Sseggona: Has Gen Katumba told you that Sejusa is AWOL?
Jeje: He has.
Katuntu: In a circumstance where an army officer at the level of Gen Sejusa is declared AWOL, are all army units informed?
Jeje: Sometimes; it depends on the circumstance.
Katuntu: In this circumstance.
Jeje: I'm not aware that there has been a general message to that effect.
Sseggona: Does that constitute an offence therefore under the UPDF act or any other law governing the army?
Jeje: I'm not a lawyer; so, I wouldn't be able to tell whether he committed an offence or not.
Sseggona: Is he a wanted man?
Jeje: When you have been declared AWOL, certainly when you show up, you are answerable to that...
When you have been declared AWOL, when you show up, you answer.
Sseggona: What if you don't appear?
Jeje: There is a procedure under the records through which you will be declared a deserter... the committee sits, if you have not appeared, after 42 days, to declare you a deserter.
Katuntu: When was he declared AWOL and has the committee sat?
Jeje: The committee has not sat.
Katuntu: It is your evidence that he was declared AWOL?
Mulongo: I just want to recollect, who declares a general officer of the rank of Sejusa AWOL?
Jeje: I said a soldier general or whatever has a station of work; it is that station where he is expected normally [to be] reporting that make that declaration.
Mulongo: Are you saying that the commander in chief is the one who declared him AWOL?
Mulongo: you said that he reports to the commander in chief but you also told us that he has a second line of reporting.
Odoi: Has the Commander in chief to the best of your knowledge made any kind of complaint?
Sseggona: Who is the acting coordinator of the Intelligence Services because ... he has not been removed from the office and where does he sit?
Jeje: I don't know because he has not been declared; so, I think he is still substantive.
Sseggona: Whom do I see in the place of Sejusa if I have security information which I want to be coordinated?
Jeje: I'm not sure if the appointing authority has appointed one and this question must be put to him.
Katuntu: The answer is that you don't know.
Jeje: That is your word; but the best person to accurately answer that question is the appointing authority, so I don't know.
Odoi: But the question is about his whereabouts, did you discuss it?
Jeje: We did not discuss it.
Mulongo: Can the minister go on record that after officially declaring Gen Sejusa AWOL; no meeting has been convened at his level to discuss this matter which borders on the national security?
Jeje: To the level of the ministry, I have called the CDF to discuss that matter, but if you are saying a meeting [was] summoned, I'm not aware of any.
Katuntu: Is there any army organ other than the High Command and the Army Council that has discussed that issue?
Jeje: The only organs that I do sit on are the High Command and the Army Council but there [are] other organs of the army like the Staff and Command which I do not sit on, therefore I'm not aware if the issue has been discussed.
Sseggona: as a minister of Defence, have you ever brought this matter up in Cabinet?
Odoi: But there is no evidence that there is any complaint from any organ of the service. So if you are not complaining, the electorates are not complaining and you are not complaining as the political leadership, is he still representing you?
Sseggona: Actually, are you aware that there are many UPDF representatives who have been away from this House for more than the 21 days you are talking about?
Jeje: I have no official record of Parliament as to this matter but if they are absent, I'm sure there is always an explanation.
Sseggona: Do you mean there are no explanations for Sejusa?
Jeje: I'm not aware.
Odoi: Where is the work station of the UPDF MP?
Jeje: For us we know your work station is UPDF.
Katuntu: Supposing I'm at Parliament all the 21 days, would I be regarded AWOL?
Sseggona: Is the minister aware that Gen Sejusa's offices which ordinarily constitute his working stations were closed?
Jeje: If you are at Parliament for 21 days, it does not necessarily constitute absence because when you are in Parliament, you are in contact with your workstation and that is sufficient for us. Two, that the offices of Gen Sejusa were closed, no I'm not aware.
Mulongo: Would you be in position to lead us to the offices of Sejusa so that we can establish that they are functioning since he is under you?
Jeje: I don't know where they are...
Katuntu: Did you know that he sought leave from the speaker?
Jeje: He does write to the speaker, he doesn't write to the ministry.
Mulongo: So, how did you come to declare him AWOL?
Jeje: There have been some correspondences between the army leadership and the speaker's office over this issue.
(The committee then meets Maj Gen Charles Angina, representing the CDF)
Mulongo: We would like to know the nature of the appointment of Gen Sejusa to you as the general headquarters as CDF vis a vis his appointment under the office of the President.
Angina: The nature of his appointment to the office of the President is by secondment.
Mulongo: How is he related to UPDF?
Angina: He is our representative to Parliament.
Sseggona: Who seconded him and how does he work in the office of the President?
Angina: The president is the commander in chief.
Mulongo: What does secondment mean?
Angina: It means that you are still bound by the UPDF Act and you are going to come back when your duty where you were seconded ends because it's a contract of three years; then after, you come back to the UPDF.
Sseggona: Who seconded him and is there any instrument of secondment?
Angina: Any officer appointed outside the UPDF by the commander in chief is seconded to that particular office which is outside the UPDF.
Mulongo: Are you telling this committee that the commander in chief both appointed and seconded him?
Angina: Once he appoints him, we second him to where he has been appointed.
Mulongo: Did you get any copy of communication, instrument of appointment, regarding his secondment?
Angina: We have that on record.
Mulongo: Can you share that extract with the committee?
Angina: If you put it in writing, we shall put that communication to the commander in chief.
Mulongo: We shall but in meantime, tell us what does it say... since you are referring to it?
Angina: The message just describes, he is appointed the coordinator of intelligence organizations in Uganda.
Mulongo: Does that include military intelligence and police crime intelligence organs?
Angina: There are only two organizations; that is ESO and ISO. That is why he is in the President's office.
Mulongo: Did the instrument describe the time and whether it is renewed or not or whether he will remain on the payroll of the UPDF?
Angina: It is just that he is appointed coordinator of intelligence and once you are appointed such, then you don't get emoluments from the UPDF; rather, from where you have been seconded.
Mulongo: Ordinarily in terms of command and control, how is he supposed to relate to you as the CDF?
Angina: It is on those areas that he remains relevant to us; representing us in Parliament and that is the reason why when he is going out of country he has to inform the office of the Chief of Defence Forces. He is not around and we need to know for how long and in this particular occasion when he was going he did not do that.
Mulongo: I would like to know if he is under your command and if possible refer to any standing orders regulations or the law, when he is seconded to another office, all together.
Angina: Most obliged we shall be back at appropriate time; if you want it now, my lead counsel in the matters of law is here, and he can articulate it.
Counsel: He remains under the command of the Chief of Defence Forces because of being a serving officer.
Mulongo: Do you have legal framework in terms of law and standing orders that pertain to your explanation?
(Counsel cites several sections of the UPDF Act in explanation)
Odoi: How was Gen Sejusa appointed, seconded to the office of the President as senior presidential advisor/coordinator of intelligence services who is supposed to report to the CDF?
Counsel: When a person is seconded, he is ordinarily on principal service; he is on secondment and therefore the immediate reporting centre, is the place of secondment but we must not forget that secondment does not terminate the linkage with mother unit and whereas he may not be required to report on a daily basis, for the purpose like travelling outside the country, he must get back to the leadership of his mother organization.
Gen Tumwine intervenes: Whoever is deployed elsewhere, reports by making it to the line general command under that deployment holding office. But for the case of Tinyefuza, in relation to Parliament, we have the UPDF caucus which coordinates us; whatever you are doing, it should be reported to the caucus.
Odoi: Do you have any legal document like a Constitution or it is by practice?
Tumwine: If everything was written in the Constitution or in the law, you would do nothing. But on being answerable to the CDF, it is mandatory for you to report to him because even if you are in Parliament you are not out of the CDF's control.
Counsel: I'm not aware of any such law or regulation that he would speak to the chairman of the caucus but as regards to the CDF, the requirement arises under two facts; he is a serving army officer and the CDF has the powers to command the defence forces.
Mulongo: The committee would like to know whether you had regular interface with Gen Sejusa as the CDF in terms of the role prescribed under the law and what it was about.
Angina: With all due respect, I became deputy CDF just a couple of months ago, and I'm representing the CDF; so, it is possible that the incumbent CDF could be able to completely answer that because when they are interfacing, I wouldn't be there to interface when they are doing it. There is a possibility that they have not been interfacing - but we came to office almost at the same time.
Mulongo: Could you tell us when Gen Sejusa was reported missing and the circumstances?
Angina: We have never been informed as office; therefore, it would be speculative for me to be saying that I know when he left.
Mulongo: Are you aware that he left anyway or he is missing?
Angina: I'm aware.
Mulongo: How do you describe his absence since you say you are not aware, is he on duty on the station?
Angina: I did not say I am not aware but I said I did not know when he left because he did not notify us but the truth is that we know he is out of the country; he is in London, basing on the communication that we get from the print media and also on television and he has come out clear to indicate that he is out of the country for his own good reasons.
Mulongo: How are you supposed to respond when you get such information [that he is missing]?
Angina: We are waiting for this Parliament where we seconded him to confirm that he is not going to be available and we shall complete the investigations that are already ongoing.
Mulongo: Do correspondences I have read to you between the speaker and Gen Sejusa's asking for leave sound to you as missing?
Angina: My understanding of this document is that the timeframe that is specified is behind us and if he is not in the country within that timeframe, then he is either captured by the enemy or he is dead.
Mulongo: My question was if the civil authority, say the president or ministers would know of his travel, would you in this regard be subordinate to them?
Sseggona: To supplement, because the nature of Sejusa's work is basically that of a chief spy among others, he could be spying on you and your connections elsewhere outside Uganda. Ordinarily would you expect him to report to you?
Angina: Every intelligent person would tell you, I'm going out and you don't give the specifics why you are going out and you will still be able to do the intelligence you want to do.
Mulongo: So in this case, you wouldn't know that if he was in such circumstances of which he was going out?
Angina: He is required to report that he is going out and if you don't do that, you [not disciplined] and whatever you do, [amounts] to indiscipline.
Sseggona: Has an AWOL message been sent in respect of Sejusa?
Odoi: Has this process been applied to Sejusa?
Angina: When I was starting, I clearly said that he was seconded and if the office of the President and the Parliament to confirm to us that he is missing then we will move on and that is why basing on his communication from outside, investigations are ongoing but you are the ones to tell us where this officer [is since he] is supposed to be with you.
Mulongo: When Parliament communicated to the CDF, didn't the UPDF or the CDF send out the message regarding the absence of the officer?
Sseggona: But Gen Tumwine told us that the process has already started; how did it start without him communicating to you?