By Mulengera Reporters
The much bashed Abdul Katuntu has responded to wide spread public criticism questioning his continued chairmanship of COSASE, the Parliamentary Committee that has lately enjoyed maximum publicity for it’s public inquiry into Bank of Uganda. Appearing on Capital Gand this Saturday morning, Katuntu said: “Actually to be frank with you I needed Shadow Attorney General more but this COSASE is not something that I have enjoyed that much because its something that has kept taking me back to class to prepare. It’s nothing compared to being Shadow Attorney General. Its something I enjoyed very much because its what I studied and I’m a professional at.” He said its not true that he is clinging on the job after expiry of his term. He also explained how the Speaker Kadaga came to be involved in a matter that is clearly the mandate of the opposition to determine. “All committee chairpersons are mandated to have audience with the Speaker to brief her on what they are doing and how far they have gone because she is the Principal spokesperson of Parliament and should always be in the know. So I went to tell her how far we have gone and she asked whether we can complete the work in the remaining period. Ofcourse I told her no,” explained Katuntu who has come under intense public criticism for not promptly giving way for Mubarak Munyagwa and Kasibante Moses to take charge of COSASE. “I left her office and that’s the last time I met and spoke to the Speaker. Instead I’m only seeing my colleagues bashing me on radios, TV and social media,” he said. “At some point I learnt that in my absentia, the Speaker spoke about that matter and for me it doesn’t concern me. It’s a matter I leave for the Speaker, the LoP and the opposition Chief Whip to handle. Its their business and as for me, I’m ready to move on even now and hand over office. That one I’m ready to do depending on how they resolve that matter.” But Katuntu said he is in all these problems because he is among those the new leadership at Najjanankumbi came prepared to politically undermine because they don’t share same views with new Party President Patrick Oboi Amuriat (POA). He agreed with NRM spokesman Ofwono Opondo that things have become this ugly because the changes (he called it my sacking by the Amuriat leadership) were not done in good faith. He then said one of the many reasons why he is still staying put is because POA hasn’t had the courtesy to formally inform him of anything regarding these changes. “When I was first appointed by Gen Muntu, he called me for a meeting and we discussed. He sought my views and he even wrote to me officially when he appointed me to chair COSASE which hasn’t been the case with the new leadership,” he said. He didn’t tell whether he has made any efforts reaching out to POA to clarify things and obliterate what he called the unnecessary storm. Katuntu blamed Opposition Chief Whip Semujju Nganda and LoP Betty Aol of the same thing saying they haven’t bothered communicating to him at all regarding their interfaces with the Speaker regarding the COSASE leadership. “Everything about them is about radio, TV and social media,” he said. “What has resulted is this unnneccessary storm and debate which I’m not available to participate in.” Semujju said he was insisting that the Bugweri County MP quits because “I hold to him to high standards similar to the likes of Ben Wacha.” He said that’s why he isn’t equally saying much about COSASE Vice Chair Anita Among “because it’s Abdul Katuntu who has a name to protect.” He said “for Anita Among I can’t plead with her because there is nothing to plead for.” He said he isn’t fighting or hating Katuntu as a person but he is merely doing his work as Opposition Chief Whip as mandated under the Rules. Katuntu avoided discussing what the rules say about his tenure and instead dwelled much on his past record and achievements some of which he said where unprecedented since independence. “I have produced many reports like the one of the Shs6bn (handshake), the one of National Housing, UNRA and UBC where we recovered the Bugolobi land title worth $10m. This was unprecedented in that Parliament since independence. No Parliament has ever done that. In the UNRA case, we recovered money from the Chinese: real cash and that too was unprecedented,” Katuntu bragged. “Even if you give me the committee on sewerage, I will turn it into the best committee in that Parliament.” He said its this high perfomance that causes some leaders in FDC to hate him. “Otherwise I’m ready to hand over COSASE. Why should I undermine anyone? In the meantime I won’t be dragged in the mud.” He implored his critics to understand the context before they resort to bashing him. “The first sacking of me by Amuriat was illegal because it came even before we served the two and half years to end our term,” Katuntu said.
NAMBOOZE CALLS HIM INCOMPETENT
Saying its time for the gloves to come off, Mukono MP Betty Nambooze (who speaks for the new opposition leadership) says Katuntu’s perfomance has actually been exageratted. “We have been quiet about these things and its now time to speak out and let the public know. We have been patiently demanding from him 7 reports. There is NAADS which was a very important report involving more billions being lost than even this Bank of Uganda probe which we are being told is very important. Yet my brother Abdul Katuntu has never brought that report. Our expectation was they needed more months to produce those 7 reports but instead they went for the one of Bank of Uganda. Why do you open new investigations when you have 7 reports pending? The Speaker has always complained of Committees not producing reports and leaving things hanging. We believed that by demanding for the 7 reports, the Speaker would be our ally,” Nambooze said during CBS’ Parliament Yaffe Program which airs on Saturday morning to coincide with Capital Gang. She begged Katuntu to respect his legacy and avoid conducting himself in a manner that gives President Museveni and his NRM party functionaries something to say to counter criticism that he doesn’t want to leave after 33 years at the helm. She also warned Kadaga to know that being Speaker doesn’t put her above the law and the rules of Parliament. “She forgets that she is an MP like all of us. We just agree to elect her to conduct sessions of Parliament to be able to transact business and I’m surprised to sometimes see her trying to behave like god. Why would the Speaker insist on working with Katuntu to determine the leadership of the opposition? This is nothing but a conspiracy for Museveni to begin determining who should lead those opposing him and honorable Katuntu shouldn’t be used by the NRM to achieve something like that,” said Nambooze who was appearing with Erias Lukwago, Abed Bwanika and Kasule Sebunya of NRM. Lukwago wondered why the Speaker had resorted to ruling on matters at press conferences as opposed to ruling during plenary as rules dictate. He also implored Ugandans to reflect on the possible role of defunct Crane Bank proprietor Sudhir Ruparellia in what has befallen the COSASE leadership. “Many Ugandans remain saddened that Dr. Suleiman Kiggundu died with handcuffs because he still had criminal charges hovering over his head and yet Sudhir whose bank was closed under similar circumstances has never been charged anywhere. We expected our COSASE colleagues to use the ongoing BoU probe to be very outspoken demanding equal application of the law so that Sudhir also faces what Dr. Kiggundu faced,” said Lukwago who was the defense lawyer for Dr. Suleiman Kiggundu who died demanding justice in the way his Greenland bank was closed. Sebunya, who has been committee chair for over 10 years, said the rules are clear one can only head a committee for only 2 and half years and it has to be an assignment by the party whips and not the Speaker. For comments, call, text or WHATSAPP us on 0703164755.