The Speaker of Parliament, Rt.Hon. Rebecca Kadaga has said that Chairpersons of Committees cannot be summoned by Commissions of Inquiry or any other investigators individually.
This follows a concern raised by Lwemiyaga County MP, Hon.Theodore Ssekikubo during a sitting of the House on Thursday, 26th November 2015.
Ssekikubo said that the media was awash with stories that the current and former Chairpersons of the Public Accounts Committee(PAC) had be summoned to appear before the Commission of Inquiry investigating the Uganda National Roads Authority(UNRA).
“The Members were being summoned to appear for the work entrusted to them by this House. Isn’t that by extension summoning Parliament?” Ssekikubo wondered.
The legislator asked whether chairpersons of committees are liable for the actions of government officials.
“Are our Members vicariously liable for the commissions and omissions of government ministries and departments?” he asked.
Kadaga said that the summons were sent to her office and that she had advised the probe committee that the Chairpersons cannot be summoned as individuals.
“They have to look for other means but not look for Members. I had another case in which two Members of Parliament were being summoned to give evidence but I said no, they were acting on behalf of the House,” she said.
Serere District MP and current Chairperson of PAC, Hon. Alice Alaso said that it was time the Speaker communicated to the Commission because they were being harassed for being involved in the UNRA mess.
“The Commission is now blackmailing us especially in this season of politicking,” Alaso said.
The former Chairperson of PAC, Hon. Kassiano Wadri added that the committees do their work and report to Parliament and it is the Executive to carry out the recommendations in the reports.
“The Commission should be professional enough and not taint our image. We were at the tail end of the investigations and cannot be blackmailed for what we did,” Wadri said.
Alice Alaso, the incumbent Public Accounts Committee chairperson and her predecessor Kasiano Wadri were summoned to appear before the Commission of Inquiry investigating into the affairs of Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) mid-November but they turned down the summons.
The two legislators were summoned to explain why PAC shelved reports on alleged corruption and mismanagement in Unra as raised by the Auditor General and Uganda Road Fund in their reports.