Parliament orders Bagyenda to return BoU vehicle, surrender bodyguard
PARLIAMENT | When Justine Bagyenda next reports to Parliament, she will be driven in a private vehicle with no privilege of a bodyguard provided by Bank of Uganda.
The Committee on Statutory Authority and State Enterprises (Cosase) Friday ordered the former executive director for supervision at the central bank to surrender all privileges she has been enjoying since her retirement from service, with legislators saying her continued use of a public vehicle as well as driver and bodyguard is illegal.
“Today should be the last day Bagyenda is using property of Bank of Uganda and we are revoking the decision of your board,” Cosase deputy chair Anita Among said Friday.
Among was addressing Dr Jan Tibamwenda, the acting Executive Director in charge of Administration at the central bank, who was appearing before Cosase to explain the the circumstances under which Bagyenda has continued to use BoU properties despite her retirement more than half a year ago.
Dr Tibamwenda explained that after Bagyenda retired at end of July 2018, the central bank withdrew the official vehicle that she was using. She said Bagyenda only resumed using BoU vehicle and was accorded a driver and security after Cosase summoned her.
But MPs punched holes in the explanation, reminding Tibamwenda that BoU governor Tumusiime Mutebile had earlier told the committee that when Bagyenda retired, he left her with the vehicle she was using, including security “because of she complained there was a security threat on her.”
Among said Mutebile had told the committee that Bagyenda had been given extension of the privilege to last until December 31, 2018. However, by Friday, she was still in enjoying all the privileges.
Tibamwenda said: “When Cosase started, especially when she was outside the country and her bodyguard had been detained, when she came, she informed us that she had been meeting challenges travelling in her private vehicle with an armed guard especially when entering the premises of Parliament. At that time, we had provided her with a substitute guard because her usual bodyguard was in detention.”
She said part of the reasons the bank had retained the official vehicle to Bagyenda’s use was because it “did not want the bodyguard assigned to her protection to travel by public means when he is armed.”
Abraham Byandala took issues with this explanation, reminding tibamwenda that Parliament is free to all Ugandans.
“I don’t know how they picked out Bagyenda and made it very difficult for her to enter,” he said.
Francis Mwijukye demanded to know if other former BoU staff that have been summoned by the committee have been accorded similar privileges, including facilitation and other allowances.
Elijah Okupa said: “I think this discrimination must stop because why would Katimbo Mugwanya be driving his car to appear here yet Bagyenda is given special treatment. Someone has retired and you are still giving special treatment. Whatever you have done, this is wrong, it must stop. I thought by the time we raised this matter last time, you had taken note. Can we know how much you have spent and continuing to spend?
‘Wastage of public resources’
The legislators took issues with the privileges, calling it a wastage of public resources and demanded to know the accountability thus far.
“Take note that public funds were misused, there was no reason that you could attach more funds to protect the former Executive Director Supervision to come to account to Parliament. Wouldn’t it be procedurally right that they compile that excessive funds spent outside the requirement and it be retrieved back. Somebody must account for that money,” Beatrice Anywar said.
Tibamwenda said she wasn’t aware staff and former staff appearing before the committee were being paid per diem for that but admitted errors in judgement to continue according Bagyenda special privileges.
Tibamwanda, as director for administration, personally made the call that saw Bagyenda retain all BoU privileges but her attempt to explain that the same was extended after December 31 was met with anger by the legislators.
MPs reminded her that January 1 when the central bank officials allegedly sat to agree on allowing Bagyenda continue enjoying the privileges was a public holiday.
“The person who made decision of extension from January 1 to date, we need financial implication and we shall recover that money from that person and we want confirmation of recovery,” Among said.
She instructed that the Executive Director for Supervision (Bagyenda’s successor) should furnish Cosase with information on the financial implication of Bagyenda’s continued special privileges.