Presidential candidate, Amama Mbabazi, has sneered at Information minister, Jim Muhwezi, for making allegations about him in the 2008 Temangalo scandal.
The National Social Security Fund [NSSF]-Temangalo saga came to light in July 2008, when reports emerged that Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, then security minister and Amos Nzeyi had been paid Shs11bn by the Fund for 414 acres of land, with each acre going for Shs24m.
It was reported that the price was higher than that on the market, resulting into the Fund losing billions of shillings.
Knight Frank put the price of an acre in the area at Shs18m, East African Consulting Surveyors at sh16m and Associated Consulting Surveyors at Shs14m.
NSSF decided to go for what it called an open market price of Shs24m.
The Parliamentary probe found that Mbabazi used his clout as security minister to force NSSF to purchase his land.
In its majority report, the parliamentary committee investigating the matter concluded that indeed Mbabazi and Ezra Suruma had violated sections of the Leadership Code.
Addressing press at Castle Hotel in Arua on Tuesday, Mbabazi said he sold Temangalo through power of attorney.
“And this matter was handled.”
He said the allegations came from Jim Muhwezi, the current minister of Information and National Guidance.
Mbabazi who is standing against President Yoweri Museveni on the Go Forward ticket, said the minority report and Majority report thought it [Temangalo land] “was good value for money”.
“I performed the role of head of government business in parliament. I was a prime minister with constitutional mandate.”
Mbabazi said the constitution vests all executive power to the president.
“I am surprised to know that I wielded that power, I wish I did. Uganda would be different.”
Mbabazi said he went to the Public Accounts Committee [PAC] to support their activities of anti-corruption.
“But I was not in their report, so it was cleared.”
“Of all people, Jim Muhwezi was putting himself in a position of people who can talk about corruption. Jim Muhwezi?” Mbabazi wondered.
He continued: “I am sorry that money was lost in the OPM, that pension money was lost and that some ministers were accused of stealing money meant for health [Jim Muhwezi].”
Muhwezi was in the Shs25bn Global Fund scandal
The Shs25bn scandal involved in former health minister Jim Muhwezi and his then deputies Mike Mukula and Alex Kamugisha.
Some of the known culprits include the director of economic affairs in the President’s Office, Teddy Cheeye and former production manager of Uganda Television, Fred Kavuma, who are currently on remand in Luzira Prison over the scam.
Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has committed $5.1b in grants to more than 130 countries to fight the three diseases.
At the Arua press conference, Mbabazi further denied allegations by Woman MP of Kole district who has been saying that he [Amama] called Northerners monkeys.
“I would also like to address the issues raised by the Woman MP of Kole. It is untrue that I have had a loose conversation with her where I referred to people as “monkeys”,” Mbabazi said.
He added: “Obviously she does not know me. I am not ready to enter that terrain not even in jest. We are discussing principles of governance in this campaign not individuals.”
The principal accountant in the Prime Minister’s Office, Geoffrey Kazinda, was in 2012 arrested and remanded to Luzira Prison in connection with the disappearance of Shs5bn.
The money, meant for the Peace Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda, was reportedly transferred to the Crisis Management and Recovery account, from where it was siphoned.
Responding to the scandal today, Mbabazi said the matter was brought to his attention by the Permanent Secretary then (Mr Pius Bigirimana).
“I invited him [Bigirimana] to call the IGG and it was that conversation that eventually led to the exposure of the problem in OPM.”
Mbabazi says a Prime Minister does not handle money allocated to his department.
The PM is the leader of government business in parliament and he coordinates all government activities and functions as they are assigned by the President.
“A PM is not the Head of government. Our constitution is clear about the roles of public office with all executive power vested in the President.”