The parliament’s committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprise’s (Cosase) broke off for Christmas when it had conducted what analyst say was a good job probing Bank of Uganda sale of seven banks which caused the country millions of money and business opportunities.
While it had done a good job under the chairmanship of Abdul Katuntu, his tenure was due to expire on 13th January and the Leader of Opposition was and is mandated to choose a replacement.
However, in December last year the Speaker of Parliament petitioned the leader of opposition (LoP), Betty Aol Ochan asking her to extend committee’s term to conclude the probe into the sale of banks by bank of Uganda.
Ochan declined to retain Katuntu on grounds that the move contravenes with the parliamentary rule of procedure that allows the committee to stay of two and half years in office. This marked the beginning of a standoff between opposition leaders who believe Katuntu is not ne of them enough.
The leading opposition party Forum for Democratic Change’s (FDC) went ahead and appointed Mubarak Munyagwa to lead the important cosase which is handling a fragile and sensitive investigation into the mismanagement of the banking sector by Bank of Uganda.
However, FDC official Sarah Epenu unlike her peers at the country’s leading opposition political party is happy with the work cosase under Katuntu has done and vouched for its continuity.
"I am an FDC. I work in the President's office. But on Cosase I want to give my personal view. The Speaker has asked that Hon. Katuntu be given extra time to finish BOU probe.” Sara Epenu said.
“What is wrong with that? Only an extension of one month and people shout about that. Katuntu has done a great job, let him finish it to logical conclusion. He has unearthed the dirt in BOU. My party FDC should know that the success of Hon. Katuntu is also our success. Let him continue and Hon. Munyagwa comes later. This small issue should not divide us."
Ever since Kadaga petitioned Ochan, the FDC has been up in arms with the Speaker of Parliament who chose to extend Katuntu’s tenure by a month to February 20 to investigating and unearthing the rot at Bank of Uganda.
But as things stand now, Katuntu and Kadaga look to be the victors as cosase under Katuntu resumed their work of investigating Bank of Uganda and Tuesday. During the sitting on Tuesday, Katuntu denied allegations that he approached the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, seeking extension of his tenure.
He says the idea to extend the committee tenure came from the Speaker herself. “It is not true that we went to the speaker to seek an extension, Katuntu told the Committee as it resumed the Bank of Uganda probe this morning.
“I want to put this on record. What happened; like any serious chairman of a committee, we always brief the speaker on the progress of the work we are doing as a committee.”
“So I went to the speaker and briefed her as the head of this institution, how far we had gone. She inquired whether it would be possible to complete this work before the term expires. I did explain to the speaker that it was not possible, Katuntu said.
“The speaker suggested that she would engage the leadership of the opposition and see a way forward. That process of engagement, I am not part of it. I imagine that the speaker will communicate to the house if the engagement happened”.
COSASE’s two and a half year tenure like other standing committees expires on January 13th.