Defence Minister Adolf Mwesige

Drama ensued during proceedings of the Parliamentary Defence Committee, when the Minister of Defence Adolf Mwesige attempted to walk out of the session before answering questions paused by opposition legislators.

This was after the Vice Chairperson of the Defence Committee Kezekia Mbogo, adjourned the meeting before the Minister could provide responses to the questions raised about UPDF’s budget framework for 2018/2019, leaving opposition MPs Theodore Ssekikuubo, Muwanga Kivumbi and Gilbert Olanya, furious and baying for Mwesige’s blood.

The three opposition MPs had raised a number of questions concerning the report on investigations on the aircraft that crushed in Kenya enroute Somalia, and demanding answers as to why Ugandan troops are reportedly still camped in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

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However, the Minister declined to offer responses, prompting Mbogo to ask him to take leave, a matter the MPs didn’t take lightly, sparking off a fight as they blocked Mwesige from leaving the meeting room before clarifying on the issues raised.

With the Minister defiant, the MPs turned rowdy, took siege of the venue and locked the door, shouting on top of their voices amid calls  to have the meeting called back to order.

“You tell us when he is (Mwesige) going to answer our questions, if not then we shall not allow him out. Let us go back and sit, call the meeting back to order and let them all sit down. Afande, you are mature enough you can’t just push me this way just go back and sit and let the meeting be adjourned properly,” Ssekikubo shouted.

With the situation getting out of hand, another MP Gerald Rwemulikya Ibanda stepped in defending Mwesige by demanding the rowdy MPs to allow the Minister and his team leave, but the MPs declined, chidingly asking the Ntoroko legislator when he resigned as legislator to take up the role of Sergeant at Arms.

“These queries must be answered by UPDF because they are keeping them, they must tell us but our chairman is here saying it isn’t of concern; we need to know the ordering of the army across the borders. It is parliament to authorises that, we need answers,” Ssekikubo said.

After the bitter exchange, Mbogo was able to contain the nasty situation and pleaded with MPs to allow the Defence team leave and settle the matter in their internal meeting.

In the ensuing chaos, the aggrieved opposition MPs accused their NRM counterparts of acting as ‘spokespersons of ministries’ at the expense of national interests.

“We are not supposed to speak for the ministry like our colleague from Ntoroko did. We need to take him for some kind of induction. We need to go for an induction to know our roles,” Butambala MP Muwanga Kivumbi said.

He was supported by Gilbert Olanya who said: “We have the duty of protecting our soldiers and our country. I support the calling of a meeting of the committee to examine the role of the chairperson. Judith Nabakooba had problems with managing this Committee, she had challenges and we thought that since you are a senior member you could manage doing our oversight work properly.”

Lubaga South MP Kato Lubwama blamed the issue on ‘egocentric’ committee heads whom he described as being arrogant.

“The biggest problem here we have is that some people think they are bigger than others. All of us are MPs, but it comes at a point when you don’t want all of us to speak. You are a chairman yes, but all of us are part of this committee. You must respect us and if we have a mandate to remove him let us do,” Lubwama fumed.

He added: “Go back to school and learn these things, everyone here assumes he is a star, let me take my water but you should note that you have to go back to school and learn these things.”