The Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja, has been tasked to follow up the case in which the Minister of Internal Affairs, Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Kahinda Otafiire, is accused of grabbing a government stock farm in Njeru Municipality, Buikwe District.
This followed a matter of national importance raised by Kira Municipality MP, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, complaining about the conduct of a minister who he said is dutifully expected to guard the farm.
“Can government tell us whether the level of degeneration has reached this far, that a minister can go and take over a government farm and arrest a farm manager and say this one I have bought it,” Ssemujju asked.
Ssemujju raised the matter during the plenary sitting chaired by Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa, on Thursday, 25 January 2024
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Joel Ssenyonyi, re-echoed Ssemujju’s avowals saying the minister conducted himself dishonourably and denied citizens critical services offered by the farm.
“There are positions that require a certain level of dignity with discipline. This is unacceptable for the minister; to grab this farm is to deprive ordinary folks service delivery,” said Ssenyonyi.
He stated that Njeru farm houses the only livestock breeding plant for the entire eastern region and the only liquid nitrogen plant that serves all hospitals in the eastern region.
Tororo District Woman MP, Hon. Sarah Opendi, recalled that the 10th Parliament extensively investigated the case and made recommendations, that Parliament could consider.
“The Committee on Agriculture investigated this matter, and a report was presented with recommendations. Maybe we need to pick the recommendations and the discussion on what the House finally passed and start from there,” she advised.
Opendi added: “In the recommendations, government was told to get its farm, and if Gen. Otafiire had any legal claims then he could be compensated”.
The Minister for Public Service, Hon. Wilson Muruli Mukasa, advised that Parliament accords Otafiire an opportunity to make a statement of personal explanation.
“This matter is not a new one as some legal steps have been taken. I think the best thing would be for us to request Hon. Kahinda Otafiire to come up and say something, he is an actor in this matter, and it will be opportune for him to come here and make a statement and clear the air,” Muruli Mukasa said.
However, the advisory was overtaken by a ruling by the Deputy to let the premier take charge and report back to Parliament in two weeks.
The Deputy Speaker also instructed that Dr Carol Wabule, the Njeru Stock Farm Manager, who had been arrested on charges of criminal trespass last week purportedly on the orders of Otafiire, be released.
The Third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister without Portfolio, Rukia Nakadama, informed Parliament that the farm manager had already been released on Police bond and restored to her position.
Otafiire in 2019 presented documents to Parliament in which he said the land in question did not belong to government but was a private mailo he obtained under a willing buyer-willing seller mode of payment. He said that government was wrongly superimposed on his land.