Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The former Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development Beti Kamya has failed to show up before the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises– COSASE after she reportedly suffered a ‘heart attack’.
Kamya, the current Inspector General of Government-IGG was scheduled to appear on Thursday morning before COSASE, which is investigating fraud at the Uganda Land Commission-ULC. The investigations stemmed from queries in the Auditor General’s report for the financial year 2019/2020 that captured questionable transactions causing financial loss to the government.
At the time of the audit between December 2019-May 2021, Kamya was in charge of the Lands Ministry that superintends over the operations of the Commission, which is mandated to document, verify, preserve and maintain land owned or administered by the government.
In his opening remarks in the committee sitting on Thursday morning, the chairperson Joel Ssenyonyi informed the MPs that he received information that Kamya had developed ‘excruciating pain in the heart’ and was rushed to an undisclosed hospital for medical attention, and could not attend the meeting until she recovers.
The revelation generated mixed reactions from the legislators. Muwada Nkunyingi, the Kyandondo East MP described the information as an excuse because past precedents have shown that witnesses advance similar excuses to elude the probe.
But Lucy Akello, the Amuru District Woman Representative argued that it is normal for sickness to occur and appealed that Kamya should be given the ‘benefit of the doubt’ but some MPs held that she ‘faked sickness’. Ssenyonyi ruled that the committee will wait on and interface with the IGG when she improves.
Among the queries, the Auditor General reported included shoddy accountability, irregular recruitment, and corruption. For instance, as of June 30, 2020, the payables balance for land compensation was Shillings 28 billion.
However, the report noted that the relevant supporting journals and documents for the liability of Shillings 9.4 billion were not availed for review rendering the genuineness of the liabilities doubtful.
Also, payables amounting to Shillings 15 billion were overstated in relation to the claim balance due to the compensation of Church of Uganda. In a related matter, the Auditor General reported that the ULC does not have a land inventory despite Shillings 546 million being allocated for the purpose yet as of March 28, 2020, the Commission had already spent Shillings 298 million.
In an October 12, 2021 letter, Lands Minister Judith Nabakooba wrote to Kamya to investigate alleged cases of abuse and misuse of ULC resources, adding that findings would guide the process of restoring the order of the Commission.
Subsequently, in November, Kamya conducted the investigations leading to the suspension of ULC Chairperson Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki, and Secretary/Accounting Officer Barbara Imaryo and immediate interdiction.
At the time, Kamya disclosed that there was sufficient evidence to pin Byenkya and Imaryo on the allegations adding that it was necessary that they step aside for fear of interfering with further investigations.