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Govt Fails to Block ID Project Debate

Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, who is the leader of government business, had wanted the report debated three days after its presentation in accordance with the rules and procedures of parliament.
Government has failed to block the debate on the controversial national ID project report that was tabled before parliament on Tuesday by the Defense and Internal Affairs Committee.

Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, who is the leader of government business, had wanted the report debated three days after its presentation in accordance with the rules and procedures of parliament.

But after two hours of debate on whether discussion on the report should go ahead on Wednesday, Mbabazi gave in and allowed the debate to proceed.

 

The report, tabled by the vice chairman of the Defense and Internal Affairs Committee, Simon Mulongo, pins three former cabinet ministers for their role in the botched procurement of the national Identity Cards.

 

The report holds former minister of Internal Affairs, Kirunda Kivejinja and Permanent secretary Stephen Kagoda, as well as the former Attorney General Kiddu Makubuya liable for violating procurement laws to sign a contract for the now stalled project. It also recommends that former ICT minister Alintuma Nsambu be investigated.

Mbabazi had argued that the executive only received the report on Tuesday and needed time to harmonise a government position.

Karamoja Minister Janet Museveni and the State Minister for Regional Cooperation, Asuman Kiyingi supported Mbabazi saying they had not read the report. The two requested for more time to consider the report and make an executive position before debate.

But Rwampara MP Vincent Kyamadidi, and Monicah Amoding, the national youth representative, did not buy the idea. They said the two arms of government operate independently adding that the report was parliamentary and not executive. They noted that the two arms of government must be respected in their own capacities.

Chris Baryomunsi, the Kinkizi East MP noted that the executive just wanted to buy time and kill the report. He said Parliamentary calendar shows that the presidential state of the nation address shall first be debated then committees will look into the policy statements.

 

Baryomunsi proposed a middle ground that those ready to debate the ID report should do so. But he noted that the debate should not be closed in order to allow the executive give its position and views. He noted that he didn’t want to have the public think that the House is stifling debate on corruption.

Betty Aol, the Gulu Woman MP, observed that the cabinet was buying time to caucus and protect the corrupt, adding that the interests of cabinet are subordinate to the public interest.

It was widely viewed that the Prime Minister was trying to buy time to protect former ICT minister, Alintuma Nsambu, who the report says should be investigated. Nsambu is currently contesting in the Bukoto South parliamentary by-elections.

The committee recommended that investigations be conducted to establish the business interest of the former minister and Michael Mawanda, the Igara East MP in the project. At one time, according to the report, the former minister traveled with funds from ICT ministry to Germany to verify and assess the capacity of Mühlbauer, the company that was awarded the 200 billion shilling contract.

In 2010, the German company was contracted to produce national identity cards at a cost of 64 million Euros. But to date, the identity cards project has not taken off. Findings from the committee reveal that there was no compliance with the public procurement laws in the award of the contract to the German firm.

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