The Security Minister, Jim Muhwezi has dismissed allegations that he had a personal interest in the procurement of Russian based, Joint Stock Company Ltd, which has been singled to provide digital trackers to all vehicles Uganda.
Muhwezi who presented a personal statement under Rule 52 of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament on 5th August 2021, informed the House that the procurement of this company began four years ago long before his appointment to the docket.
“I had no prior knowledge of this company before I was appointed minister. In fact, I had no prior knowledge of Government’s plan to install tracking devices in motor vehicles and motor vehicle number plates beyond what was said by the President on 20th June 2018 after the late Colonel Hon Ibrahim Abiriga,” said Muhwezi.
Joint Stock Company, a Russian digital security company that has been procured to provide digital trackers to all Motor vehicles in the country.
He revealed that over the four years, several meetings were held between the different Government agencies to have the proposal sail through from the said company. He added that the Government even sent a team to Russia to conduct due diligence on the aforementioned company in December 2018.
The Minister further disclosed that as a result of the protracted negotiations, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Government and the company by his predecessor, Gen. Elly Tumwine on 19th March 2019.
“As a result of these protracted meetings and negotiations, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the government and the company by my predecessor the Hon Gen Elly Tumwine on 19th March 2019,’ he added.
He emphasized that the attempted assassination of his works and transport counterpart, Gen. Katumba Wamala, was what created the urgency to have the contract signed so that the motor vehicle tracking system could be installed.
Muhwezi told the MPs that prior to his swearing-in as Minister of Security, he received a Presidential directive on June 13, 2021 to have the contract which had been pending signed hastily.
To ensure all processes be expeditiously finalized, the minister said that he wrote to the Permanent Secretary, office of the President on June 24, 2021, which he did.
Nsamba Patrick Oshabe, Member of Parliament for Kassanda North raised a procedural matter demanding that the Minister tables the directive.
“There is a tendency for Ministers always using the cover of Presidential directives as a scapegoat to the mistakes they make. The Minister has just said that he was working under a Presidential directive. Are we proceeding well when the Minister just says that he received a Presidential directive without laying it on the table? Can he lay in the table the Presidential directive as it was,” said Nsamba.
In response, the Minister wondered how the Member expected him to table the directive before presenting the statement.
The Leader of the Opposition (LOP), Mathias Mpuuga equally raised a procedural matter that the Minister on top of just making a personal statement had gone ahead to discuss the controversial issue of contract only privy to him.
“Are we proceeding right when the Honourable Minister imports in matters only privy to him and trying to join the house into a contravention decision that we have questions about?? Asked Mpuuga.
The Deputy Speaker Anitah Amongi who was chairing the House guided that matters touching on the contracts should not be discussed because that would amount to subjudis. She added that there is a case about the said contract.
“The Minister is not defending the contract but he is giving his personal explanation.” Said Among.