Mandatory vehicle inspections will soon continue uninterrupted after the Attorney General (AG) revealed that government of Uganda contract with Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS) can’t be cancelled lest the East African country suffers adverse consequences.
Speaking on the floor of Parliament on Wednesday, the Deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana said after scrutinizing the SGS contract as well as majority and minority reports (about the contentious contract), the Government lawyer didn’t find any ground to have the contract cancelled.
It should be noted that Parliament constituted an investigation into the contract drawn between Ministry of Works and SGS after MPs raised complaint in the manner in which the two bodies entered into agreement.
The Parliamentary Committee on Physical Infrastructure took the lead in the investigations in which the MPs failed to get a common ground on how SGS contract should be dealt with.
While the Majority report called for the renegotiation of the contract between Government and SGS, the Minority report called for the cancellation of the contract.
Rukutana said the allegations alluded to by the Minority report are baseless as they fall short of evidence to warrant cancellation of the contract.
The Minority report pointed out bribery incidences where officials from the Ministry of Works benefitted from an expense paid trip from 7th to 12th November 2016 to South Africa.
However, Rukutana rejected these allegations saying there is no way these trips could constitute gratification for the staff’s roles in assisting SGS to secure the contract.
“By any stretch of imagination, we couldn’t get evidence connecting the alleged trips to South Africa,” he said.
He also rejected claims of conflict of interest by Denis Sabiiti, who led the contract Committee during negotiations of the contract, but resigned from the Ministry and was later hired as consultant by SGS, saying since he had resigned from the Ministry, he was free to work anywhere.
“Whether the allegations are true or not, we didn’t find any justification to impute fraud on the part of SGS. If Sabiiti had resigned his office at the Ministry, he was free to go anywhere including at SGS, in any case, the alleged crime was tasked at the conclusion of the contract,” he said.
The Minority report also alleged that SGS failed to pay the concession fees as per contract, arguing that payment wasn’t adhered to.
However, Rukutana said both reports acknowledge that payments were made but late and money received by the Ministry of Works.
“The basis to terminate delayed payment was waived by the Ministry of Works, that ground is therefore no longer available in the Ministry of Works and therefore to Government because the money was received albeit late. So we can’t rely on that as basis for termination of the contract,” he said.
On recommendations that SGS contract be cancelled on grounds that it was void given that the contract wasn’t drawn by the Attorney General, Rukutana said this isn’t a strong ground to have the contract cancelled.
He revealed that the contract was drawn by the Ministry of Works and cleared by the Solicitor General and was therefore valid.
“The practice is, the Attorney General doesn’t draw all agreements, the officials from the Attorney General’s chambers may participate in negotiations of agreements, but the line Ministries draw the agreements and subject them to the scrutiny and clearance of the Attorney whose role is to ensure that the constitution doesn’t infringe on any other provisions of the laws of the land,” he argued.