After nearly three hours of a heated bipartisan debate, the House presided by the Speaker Anita Among adopted the Trade committee recommendation to have the deal the government signed with Uganda Vinci Coffee Limited terminated in public interest.
The session was preceded by protests by opposition lawmakers who wore ‘hands off our coffee’ labeled t-shirts to show their total disregard for the deal.
According to reports by Daily Monitor, a local daily paper, “The House based their decision on mainly three major reasons; the deal contravened multiple sections of law; the company doesn’t have financial capacity to undertake the project, and lacks a valid investment licence. The House heard that the company’s investment licence issued in 2014 expired and was not renewed in 2019.”
The Speaker Among reacted to allegations that she had been ‘bribed and compromised’ to delay the report stating that she was terribly devastated and disappointed by people who made such allegations.
The angry MPs further demanded for action to be taken against the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija such that similar mistakes that can land the country in trouble have to be avoided by government officials who sign deals on behalf of the public. Although some MPs suggested a censure for Kasaija, the speaker declined to adopt the proposal
AG Kiryowa admits mistakes
The Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka admitted defeat and said he would report back to parliament soon after discussing with the executive.
“I have read it and noted its contents. We have listened to the concerns. We have noted the concerns of Parliament and the people. We shall take the recommendations that have been given. We shall review them and report back to Parliament on the action taken,” Mr Kiryowa said.
Committee head Mwine Mpaka comments
“ The President agreed with most of the issues raised by the committee but whoever emphasized that the biggest issue has been value addition,…and strongly recommended that a review of the agreement between Vinci and government of Uganda be done in not more three months as opposed to termination as termination could have reputational damage,” Mr Mpaka said.
For the first time in his 36 year rule, Museveni is having a hard to tame NRM dominated Parliament, a sign that he is losing grip of the reality that he is now too old to control everyone’s mindset regardless of whether they’re from NRM or opposition.