By Moses Walubiri
Education minister Jessica Alupo has appealed to the education committee of Parliament to probe the recent strike at Kyambogo University.
Her plea came after her failure to attend a scheduled meeting with the committee yesterday. The incident made MPs to accuse her of contempt of Parliament. They said they would invoke their powers to force her attend.
“I am in the village inspecting schools which were ravaged by floods. I expected the Minister of State for Higher Education (John Muyingo) to attend the meeting, but he informed me that he too was upcountry. It is better for the committee to extend the probe so that all stakeholders are heard,” Alupo said in a phone interview on Monday.
Alupo said the invitation letter from the committee did not ask for specific questions that required her presence. She said she thought Muyingo, who was chairman of the Kyambogo University Council for a long time, was better placed to meet the committee.
The education ministry permanent secretary, Francis Lubanga, tried to explain Alupo’s absence in a letter.
MPs, Joseph Ssewungu, William Kwemara, Alex Ndezi and committee chairperson, Sylvia Namabidde, however, faulted Alupo for failing to meet the committee for the fifth time.
They kicked out Lubanga and the education ministry officials.
“The minister was invited five times and she refused to appear. We shall be setting a wrong precedent if we give these people audience. When we invite a minister, we want a minister, not ministry technocrats,” Kwemara said.
Riled, MPs who had decided to write their report without Alupo’s input, later decided to invoke rule 197(d) of the parliamentary rules of procedure to enforce Alupo’s attendance.
The education committee is handling two Kyambogo University petitions; one by students and the other by teaching staff over a host of grievances which resulted in the university’s recent brief closure.
The committee’s report is one of the issues the house is expected to handle when it returns from recess next week.