Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has prematurely adjourned the House after President Museveni’s ministers fabled and failed to explain UPDF involvement in fishing islands.
Kadaga specifically cited out Defence Minister Adolf Mwesige and called him a notorious minister for defying Parliament’s directive to explain why UPDF is alleging mistreating fishermen in various islands such as Bavuma Islands, Ssesse Island, Bukhooli Island, Lwapanga Island and others.
On Tuesday, Kadaga ordered Prime Minister Rukutana Rugunda to present a comprehensive statement on UPDF involvement in islands on Wednesday (today) after MPs pinned them of allegedly torturing fishing communities.
“The Prime Minister is directed to come tomorrow [Wednesday] and address us on this impunity we have been raising for the last three months and without fail,” Kadaga said.
However, today, PM Rugunda was a no-show as state minister for Veterans, Bright Rwamirama explained that the PM is abroad for official duties (UN Assembly) and requested for two weeks for a comprehensive statement. His request did not go well with the MPs who demanded that Kadaga adjourns the House until a statement is brought on the floor.
“Right honourable Speaker, there seems to be a cold war between the executive and parliament. The Speaker’s orders are not followed. Your letters are not responded to in a satisfactory manner yet your orders shouldn’t fall in vain,” Felix Ogong Okot [Dokolo South MP] said.
In her ruling, Kadaga adjourned the House sine die following failure by cabinet to present a statement on the mistreatment of the fishermen.
“Yesterday I gave you [minister] a letter which I gave to the president, have you acted on those soldiers and yet I even gave you names of the soldiers. I think the Defence minister is very notorious,” Kadaga said.
This matter first became contentious on Tuesday following complaints by MPs representing constituencies on islands with Bukooli Island County MP, George Ouma Abott having told Parliament that UPDF has been extorting money from fishermen, under pretext that the fishing community is engaged in illegal fishing.
While raising his concern on the floor, Ouma revealed that the electorates had raised many complaints with the last move of UPDF seeing its officers confiscate a consignment worth Shs9M from his electorates.
His concerns were shared with Geoffrey Macho (Busia Municipality) MP who noted that the actions of UPDF officers on lakes have cost NRM support narrating a scenario when he attended burial and was insulted by mourners when he made mention of NRM.
Kadaga also informed Parliament that she had received the same complaints in Namayingo last week where residents detailed how UPDF was not only tormenting Ugandan fishermen, but had stretched their wrath as far as Kenya and Tanzania and said it was about time the Ugandan Force put an end to their rowdy actions.
The Speaker also decried the impunity with which UPDF is terrorizing the fishing community revealing that when Uganda Fisher Traders Association last week over the same issue nine of their representatives were arrested and wondered where UPDF expects Ugandans to seek redress if they are punished to come to Parliament.