Imagine the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs suing a government he serves! This is exactly what Uganda’s Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Kahinda Otafiire (pictured) has done.
Asked by Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga to explain circumstances under which he came to take possession of square miles of land in Jinja, which land is said to have been a government stock farm, Otafiire confirmed his interest in the contested land.
To the shock of MPs, the Minister told Parliament that he had instructed his lawyers to take government to court for taking over his land.
In her communication during today’s plenary sitting, Kadaga called out what she called impunity in government where Otafiire is said to have taken over the land. She also said that a one Muhangi, who is asid to be close to Otafiire also brought down a building in Jinja.
Kadaga said: “We shall want to know the relationship between Muhangi and Otafiire now he has taken over a government firm. I direct the Minister of Internal Affairs to investigate this issue, who is Muhangi, how did he take over government lands?”
Reacting to Otafiire’s remarks, Budadiri West MP, Nandala Mafabi wondered g how Otafiire could drag the same government he serves to court.
“He wants to throw government off his land and the government he is throwing off he is serving as a Minister. This is arrogance that the whole minister supposed to protect public property is now taking over public property. Wouldn’t it be procedurally right?” Mafabi wondered.
Buhweju County lawmaker, Francis Mwijukye reminded Parliament that while Otafiire was Minister of Lands, he was cited in cases of land grabbing and is now using his office in Justice to formalize his deals from Ministry of Lands.
The statement angered Otafiire, who dared Mwijukye saying, “I would like Mwijukye to repeat this outside this house. Repeat what you said outside this house.”
Tasked by Speaker to table documents that detailed how he came to own government land, the Minister insisted that he was exonerated by the Inspector General of Government, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Land Commission and that the matter is in court and he wasn’t at liberty to discuss the matter at Parliament.
Kadaga however insisted, “We aren’t discussing; we want you to lay how you acquired stock farm.”
The threats Otafiire made towards Mwijukye angered Nandala who noted, “We are good friends but he is wrong friend when it comes to public property. When he was the Minister of Lands he went and used certain name and got the land, he used his office very well and got that public land. The issue he uses his offices is correct and I am going to repeat it outside and I see what you are going to do.”
However, Otafiire laughed off Nandala’s call for a fist fight saying, “I fight legitimate wars and have no urge to fight Nandala.”