On Thursday, the Parliamentary Committee on Education & Social Services convened a meeting during which heads of education sector agencies had the opportunity to interact with legislators while explaining their budget performance since the beginning of the ongoing FY on 1st July 2023. These came from NCDC, NCS, Makerere University, Mubs, Kyambogo and the Ministry of Education itself. The Executive Director of the Higher Education Students Financing Board (HESFB aka loan scheme) Michael O Wanyama was also present.
Wanyama presented his agency’s budget performance for the FY2022/2023 in which he explained the extent to which their sponsored graduates’ failure to get jobs immediately after graduation and deliberate underfunding by the GoU had crippled performance of the scheme. After his presentation, the Committee Chairman John Ntamulira Twesigye called on MPs to give their reactions.
Honorables Emmanuel Ongetho and Kalungu West’s Joseph Sewungu were among those who made comments. Ongetho castigated Finance Minister Matia Kasaija for refusing to fully fund HESFB (gave them only Shs23.7bn compared to Shs29.5bn which was appropriated) and proposed that State Minister Peter Ogwang, who led the education sector groups, gets the opportunity to reappear before the same Committee and be authorised to physically punch and flog Kasaija for disrespecting Parliament.
Sewungu, reflecting on low levels of recovery of the loans from sponsored students (only Shs590m was recovered compared to Shs1.3bn which had been planned in the period between July 2023 and 30th June 2024), demanded to know why the HESFB beneficiaries have strictly had to be from science-based disciplines yet there are other disciplines that are viable and would be easy to recover from. A former primary school teacher, Sewungu gave the example of law which he recently completed from LDC.
“Law is a good one which should be considered too besides science disciplines and TVET programs. Myself I’m now a lawyer and comfortably employed as one even when I started out as a teacher. Do you think someone can study the law like myself and fail to get employed or employ himself to be able to pay back that loaned money?” Sewungu asserted adding that it’s high time the entire loan scheme gets reviewed with a view of relaxing on the eligibility criterion so that even students from non-science disciplines can also benefit.
The vigorousness with which the veteran NUP MP bragged about law students’ employability after training, including asserting how a law graduate can easily create his or her own job, prompted Committee Chairperson Twesigye to promptly ask: “Tell us about yourself where do you work? Where are your law chambers? What’s the name of the firm?” This was a joke, towards the end of the session, but Sewungu felt he had to respond. He pushed back by saying the law firm is called “MAGNA Advocates.”
And this is something that evidently surprised the Committee Chairman, who seemingly thought Sewungu was a joking subject when it comes to practicing and earning front the law which he painfully studied at Makerere University before proceeding to LDC whose pre-entry exams he excelled at.
We know this MAGNA Advocates, which Sewungu proudly associated himself with, to be belonging to senior Makerere law school lecturer Joseph Kyazze who also does a lot of legal errands for his former KIU law student Speaker Anita Among. The sarcastic laughter from mainly NRM MPs, that followed Sewungu’s disclosure of MAGNA Advocates to be his other place of work, seemed to suggest many fellow legislators had previously been very contemptuous of Sewungu’s credentials as a duly mandated member of the Ugandan Bar.
CLASH OVER JANET:
During the same Committee session, Sewungu clashed with Twesigye who implored Ogwang to convey the Committee’s warm regards to his senior Minister and boss Janet Museveni. “Mr. Chairman that’s being unfair. How do you send warm regards on behalf of all of us in favor of a person who has consistently refused to come and interface with this Committee for now 3 years?” protested Sewungu unintimidated and outspoken as always. Twesigye pushed back vigorously defending the First Lady who he said has always desired to interface with the Committee.
He made reference to Kololo and Victoria Serena Hotel Kigo as some of the venues where Janet was previously comfortable meeting and interacting with the Committee from. “She has always wanted to come to interact but it’s us the Committee which hasn’t been ready,” Twesigye controversially asserted as Sewungu protested calling the same total misrepresentation.
Ogwang corroborated Twesigye’s claims making it clear that Mrs. Museveni has always “been ready to meet this Committee and it has only been the issue of where.” Ogwang said he was more than ready to coordinate to ensure that meeting eventually happens prompting Sewungu to thank him for “always being the State Minister willing to suffer while shielding the senior Minister [Janet Museveni].”
LAW COUNCIL ASKED:
In a related development, more than 40 MPs sitting on the Trade & Tourism Committee of Parliament have signed onto a 211 pages report which among other things demands severe professional sanctioning against a number of Kampala lawyers who have been established to have involved themselves in the Cooperatives Unions war compensation scandals.
Led by Mpaka Mwine, the Committee inquired into the compensation billions which have been expended towards revival of Cooperatives since the FY2011/2012 to date-making them 10 years. The findings are shocking; illustrating the extent to which billions have fictitiously been paid out over the years through rogue-minded Kampala law firms against which the Committee is now demanding action.
Specifically on pages 52-60, which focuses on West Mengo Growers Cooperative Union Ltd, the MPs zero in on the Kampala lawyer Justin Mungoma who they demand must account for and subsequently refund Shs2bn which was in May 2022 paid out in favor of West Mengo. That the Mungoma law firm was suddenly smuggled into the process sidelining Kajeke law firm which had been doing work for the Union for decades.
West Mengo’s claim (relating to 10 Square miles of land at Kiganda, factory at Kibibi Butambala, buildings, stores and machinery, 4000 bags of unprocessed coffee, 500 heads of cattle, motor vehicles and storage buildings at Kawempe etc) had been verified and confirmed to stand at Shs14bn but only Shs2bn had been paid out as at May 2022. In their report, the MPs demand to know why only Shs50m was paid to West Mengo Union leaders (Musa Bagala & Moses Lubega Kitakule) with the rest (Shs1.95bn) going to Mungoma ostensibly to cater for his legal fees and effort that went into negotiating with the Ministry of Trade & Cooperatives.
Making it clear that Mungoma was never properly instructed in writing to represent the West Mengo Union, the MPs state that he wasn’t entitled to earning even a penny as genuine members and intended beneficiaries (for whom the Shs14bn was meant) continued languishing in their villages. As such, they have written to Law Council suggesting that his PC gets revoked and his law firm severely sanctioned.
The report indicates how the Cooperatives cash bonanza played out and manifested into the Mungoma law firm bank account at KCB: Shs82m on 20th November 2021, Shs78m on 25th November, Shs200m on 27th November, Shs190m on 30th November, Shs210m on 10th May 2022, Shs200m on 14th May and Shs29m on 10th June 2022. That having refused to appear before the Committee in the month of October 2023, Justin Mungoma later on submitted written responses to the Committee’s queries regarding his Shs2bn heist and the same was tendered on 16th October 2023.
Parliament is now demanding that the defiant lawyer gets professionally sanctioned by Law Council which by law is mandated to undertake such actions. The report terms Justin Mungoma’s acts to have amounted to ‘professional misconduct’ which shouldn’t go unpunished. (For comments on this story, get back to us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734 & 041 4674611 or email us at email@example.com).