Legislators superintended by Atiku Bernard, Member of Parliament Ayivu County, Arua District are frustrated seeing that their colleagues have snubbed the petition to have Minister of Agriculture censured on accusations of abuse of office and miss conduct.
A notice of motion was on May 6, served to the clerk to Parliament under Rule 108 (1) of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament.
“Pursuant to Rule 108 (1) of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament, 2017, take note that I, Atiku Bernard, Member of Parliament Ayivu County, Arua District intend to move a motion of censure against Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries on the grounds of abuse of office and misconduct as prescribed in articles 118 (1) (a) and (b) of the constitution” reads Mr. Atiku’s letter to the Clerk.
Atiku and ilk then embarked on collecting signatures to kick out Ssempijja from Cabinet.
Atiku requires 150 lawmakers to sign the petition, but in a shocking downturn, only 11 MPs have since expressed a vote of no confidence in Ssempijja.
The petition is at the reception of Parliament in space and any interested MP would move and sign.
According to sources inside Parliament, the MPs decided to snub the petition on grounds that Atiku was witch-hunting Ssempijja after the Minister legally interdicted National Animal Genetic Resource Centre and Date Bank (NAGRC&DB) executive director Dr Charles Lagu who at the time of interdiction had been jailed.
Atiku is s close ally of Lagu who has been mentioned on several reports as a top beneficiary of NAGRC’s animals.
And upon reading Ssempijja’s defence he submitted to the Speaker of Parliament the MPs have become disinterested.
Parliament has since 1998 censured two Ministers including Maj. Gen Jim Muhwezi (1998) and Sam Kutesa (1999) and forced five Ministers to resign after collecting the required signatures to censure them.
The Constitution in article 118 gives Parliament powers to censure a minister.
Parliament may, by resolution supported by more than half of all members of Parliament, pass a vote of censure against a Minister on grounds of (a) abuse of office or willful violation of the oath of allegiance or oath of office; (b) misconduct or misbehavior; (c) physical or mental incapacity, namely, that he or she is incapable of performing the functions of his or her office by reason of physical or mental incapacity; (d) mismanagement; or (e) incompetence.
Allegations against Ssempijja
Ssempijja who rose to prominence while in Masaka where he served as LCV is being accused of neglecting PPDA rules when he used his powers as the line minister and took bulls from Lusenke Stock Farm in Kayunga for person gain.
“Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssemijja while holdig the portfolio of Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries-
Abused his office when he ordered for the withdrawal of several heads of cattle from Lusenke Stock Farm, a government owned ranch managed by National Animal Genetic Resource Centre and Date Bank (NAGRC&DB) located in Kayunga District contrary to the provisions of the Animal Breeding Act,2001 and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, 2003.
Misbehaved and misconducted him when he, without lawful excuse, refused, neglected or failed to attend the house on March 12, 2020, as directed by the Hon. Speaker,” Atiku’s motion says.
The narrative peddled by Atiku has been that the Minister pulled out 15 bulls from NAGRC Farm.
Ssempijja wrote to Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga explaining circumstances that led to the slaughter of 15 ‘bulls’ at an event to celebrate the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) government’s achievements in Greater Masaka subregion in 2019.
The event was held at Lukaya Bulakati Grounds and the President’s brother and Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) coordinator Gen Salim Saleh represented Yoweri Museveni. Vice President Edward Ssekandi, NRM Secretary General Justine Lumumba, cabinet Ministers, and tens of MPs were present.
In his letter to Speaker Kadaga, Minister Ssempijja explains that he did not request for the bulls from the National Animal Genetic Research Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC &DB) but had written to the agency’s Executive Director requesting for support and also showcase at the function just like he had done to many agencies.
“The Management of National Animal Genetic Research Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC &DB) in their own wisdom and following the organisation’s internal management system decided, through their contracts committee, to approve and contribute 15 (fifteen) steers (castrated young bulls),” explains Ssempijja in his letter to the Speaker.
The Minister further noted that NAGRC & DB had then ordered the Manager of the Kayunga-based Lusenke Stock Farm to release the bulls, which Ssempijja was told “were delivered to the venue of the function by the agency itself using its own vehicle.”
“The 15 animals in question were not bulls used in breeding programs, but castrated young bulls (called steers). The impression that these bulls came from South Africa is also not true. This fact has also been clarified by the National Animal Genetic Research Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC &DB) Board Chairman. The 15 steers in question were of small type ‘East African Zebu cattle’ commonly called Enganda or Enkoromoijo cattle,” Ssempijja further explained.