In Uganda, the decision by the secretary general of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) to sell land to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is turning out to be a major scandal. Movement Secretary General Amama Mbabazi is accused among other things of conflict of interest.
The deal is currently a subject of investigation by a committee of the Ugandan parliament, and some NRM members of parliament like Jim Muhwezi have gone on record to call for Mbabazi’s resignation as party secretary general.
From Kampala, Mbabazi told VOA that while it is true he has shares in the company that owns some of the land that was sold, there was no conflict of interest.
“There were such allegations, but this was clearly a misunderstanding because the NSSF does not fall under my portfolio. And as a matter of fact I did not even participate in the actual sale of land because the company had given power of attorney to a colleague of mine about that sale. So that couldn’t possibly have been a conflict of interest because a conflict of interest is where one uses his or her position of responsibility for personal advantage. And obviously that couldn’t have been the case,” he said.
The NSSF land sale deal is currently a subject of investigation by a committee of the Ugandan parliament, and some members of parliament have gone on record to call for Mbabazi’s resignation as party secretary general.
Mbabazi said his colleagues still have confidence in his leadership as secretary general of the ruling NRM. He blamed what he called vocal voices within the party who he said have been trying to seek his downfall.
“There are a few voices which have come out vocally, but these are the same voices which have always been vocal against me when we stood for election. When I stood for the position of secretary general we had a competition and apparently those that competed with me are still at it. But as you know, I won an overwhelming majority. I scored more than 75 percent support, and I still enjoy that level of support,” Mbabazi said.
He said certain people, whom he did not name, have always wanted for him to be caught in some wrongdoing.
“Some people felt that at long last they had caught me in some wrongdoing or in some improper behavior. But of course there is nothing in it,” Mbabazi said.
Jim Muhwezi, a member of a parliamentary committee investigating the land sale, is one of those who has gone on record to call for Mbabazi’s resignation as party secretary general. He said parliament has found evidence of some wrongdoing.
“It would appear there were some mistakes which were committed by both the management and the board of directors of the National Social Security Fund, but also by the senior public officers who were party in the sale of the land. We have debated this openly and we have given our views to Honorable Mbabazi, who has also been going around explaining himself and pointing out some of us as the people who are against him,” Muhwezi said.
But Muhwezi said some members of parliament have told Mbabazi that they had nothing personally against he Mbabazi except that Mbabazi’s publicly stated views have been contrary to what the evidence has shown.
Muhwezi said while Mbabazi has been telling the public in the media that some people were out to see his downfall, very few Ugandans have bought into such an argument.
“I must add that recent events of course have settled because the managing director has come out to see that he behaved the way he did because of political pressure exerted on him. So I think that is a none story by Honorable Mbabazi because it is not confirmed, as we all already knew any way and evidence has already shown that it was political pressure that caused the management of the National Social Security Fund to flout all the procurement regulations which caused anger to most of people,” he said.
Muhwezi said he would not like to pre-empt the parliamentary committee’s report, but he added that those who would be found guilty would be dealt with according to the law. He also said those who would be politically and morally responsible would also face political and moral judgment.