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Defiant Katuntu: We Are Occupying COSASE Office Legally

The outgoing Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), Abdu Katuntu has spoken out publicly for the first time about what has turned out to be the ‘COSASE leadership saga’.

This is after Speaker Rebecca Kadaga extended the tenure of Katuntu led Committee by a month to complete the Bank of Uganda (BoU) probe over the controversial closure of seven defunct banks.

However, this didn’t go down well with the Opposition who want the new COSASE team led by Kawempe South MP, Mubarak Munyagwa to occupy office immediately.

Responding to the ongoing debate today at Parliament, Katuntu, said:

“You have been following debate about the tenure but more particular the leaders of the committee. I think the debate has been ranging for so long because it had a bonafide and non-bonafide arguments about the tenure and business of this committee.

As Chairperson of this Committee and Deputy Chairperson, we are not dying to be in these positions. We can only stay in these positions [for a specified period of time]; nobody is stuck in an office against rules of procedure of parliament.”

He quoted Rule 157(8) which states that [Committee] members shall be announced by speaker and accordingly assume their respective membership.

“There is no member who has been designated and his name announced in Parliament for him to assume leadership office. The press should clarify this….Let everybody get contented that once his name has been designated,he will be in this chair and vice will be in this chair. We don’t have a debate in good faith. I don’t intend to get in politicking,” he explained.

He added that their term expires on the 13th of this month.

The incoming Vice Chairperson, Moses Kasibante asked Katuntu why he asked Speaker to extend their term.

Katuntu responded, saying “That will be handled by person who says it will be the extended. That decision isn’t mine.”

When probed further, he said: “It is also not true that we went to speaker to seek for extension. Like indeed all serious chairperson of committees, we always brief speaker on the work we are doing. We briefed her on how far we have gone. I did explain that it isn’t possible [to complete BoU probe by 13th of this month]; the speaker suggested she will engage the leadership of opposition to get way forward. That negotiation I am not party to it. What we did is to brief the speaker because the speaker should be abreast with all facts going on in the committee.” 

When journalists asked Katuntu to respond to accusations of failing to produce reports before Parliament, Katuntu lashed out at them for failing to fact check information at their disposal and embarked on listing his achievements as COSASE Chairperson.

Katuntu said: “The problem is you journalists, you are reporters of this institution you know who has been producing reports or not. Are you aware that we produced a report on UNRA? Aren’t you aware that we produced a report on National Forest Authority, UBC, National Housing Corporation? Aren’t you aware we produced a report on the Shs6Bn oil handshake?”

“What can I do? The reports are there, they were adopted by the House, you people were there, you are the witnesses and yet you are asking me that question. When you produce a report, you lay it on the floor, you produce it and the reports are there. How could we have recovered money from the Chinese without a report? How could we have recovered land worth USD10M of UBC? Aren’t you aware we even laid that title of the land on the floor?”

He added: “So what is this all about? But I don’t want to get involved in that sort of discussion, I don’t and please don’t ask any question like that again.”

In August 2018, FDC President Patrick Amuriat replaced Katuntu as COSASE Chairperson and his deputy, Anita Among with Munyagwa and Rubaga North MP, Kasibante respectively, but the new appointees couldn’t take office as the tenure of the current team hadn’t elapsed as their term of office lasts for two and half years.

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