It was a charged moment in Parliament on Tuesday when Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi appeared before the Public Accounts Committee to explain his role in the loss of over 50 billion shillings in his office.
Name calling, insults, disrespect, battle of the egos and personal fights characterized the committee’s sitting as the Prime Minister and MPs exchanged words.
PAC summoned Mbabazi to explain his role in the mismanagement of over 50 billion shillings by staff in his office. According to a special audit report from the Auditor General, the money meant to facilitate post-war recovery activities in Northern Uganda was diverted and deposited on personal accounts.
The Prime Minister was first asked to take oath before he testified to which he replied that it was absolutely not necessary to swear though he eventually did. Maxwell Akora, the lead counsel for PAC then put to Mbabazi that they needed to understand the role of the Prime Minister and his personal role under the constitution.
He also asked what Mbabazi’s assessment was of the effectiveness of his role with the current set up of the Prime Minister’s Office which has nearly 12 ministers. These include two ministers for Karamoja Affairs, 3rd deputy PM, ministers for northern Uganda, Luwero, Teso affairs, Bunyoro affairs, general duties, information and national guidance and ministry for disaster preparedness. The PM is also supposed to have first, second and third deputies.
The Prime Minister first stated that he was happy to appear before PAC but he was not before PAC because there was any issue that concerned his personal action but because of the magnitude of the problem. He added that it is regrettable that money was lost in his office.
Mbabazi, with an aura of assurance, told the MPs that he is not a minister, not a minister in the office of the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister of Uganda.
PAC chairperson Kassiano Wadri asked the Prime Minister to let the definition of his position be a topic for another day. But Mbabazi answered and said he would answer the committee questions as he sees fit. Taking a sweeping look at the committee, his eyes fell on Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo to whom he said he has been looking for for months.
At this point, Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga wondered why the Prime Minister was being diversionary and deciding what direction PAC should take instead of answering questions on issues put to him. But Mbabazi answered that Karuhanga is always disturbed.
The MPs told the Prime Minister that he is belittling the matters put to him. Serere Woman MP Alice Alaso asked the Prime Minister to provide information that has been requested from him and asked him to leave party matters aside. Alaso pleaded with PAC to tolerate the Prime Minister’s behavior otherwise he is going to walk out of the room without answering issues such as misallocation of the PRDP funds. Wadri concluded that some of the Prime Minister’s attempts were to get him off the hook.
Janet Museveni, the minister for Karamoja Affairs, is also expected to appear before the committee this week.