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Review rules for vetting ministerial nominees

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th November 2012 08:11 PM

The MP’s appointments committee who refused to approve Idah Nantaba as state minister for lands, then reversed their decision, should avoid being seen as unfair.

Dr. Okodan Akwap
 
The MP’s appointments committee who refused to approve Idah Nantaba as state minister for lands, then reversed their decision, should avoid being seen as unfair. 
 
Unfairness, insecurity, malice and vindictiveness are some of the things that tend to rob people of confidence and push them to nit-picking when they see a speck of dust in other people’s eyes. 
 
These things can be counterproductive in an inclusive institution such as Parliament where MPs are expected to speak and act on behalf of the masses.
 
People understood when MPs on the appointments committee queried Nantaba’s academic qualifications. Questions like that are constitutionally backed. However, Uganda National Examinations Board settled the matter in favour of the nominee. 
 
But I do not understand how anybody benefited from the excitement sparked off by the spirited objection of some of the committee members to approve Nantaba on account of her morals. Morals are standards of good behaviour.
 
The question is: Are these standards universal and inviolable? It would have helped if the committee told us exactly how Nantaba behaved badly and what relevant authority determined that, consequently, she was not fit to be a minister. To say that she shouted at committee members is not enough. 
 
Perhaps details of what provoked whatever outbursts the nominee made in front of the committee could have enabled some of us who were not there to weigh the circumstances and draw our own conclusions. 
 
I think the time is ripe to review the process of vetting ministerial nominees. In many cases, these are not technical people. 
They are nominated largely on political calculations and the level of comfort the appointing authority wishes to derive from working with them in the cabinet.
 
Consequently, vetting should focus on pertinent legal questions such as age, education and criminal records. Wandering into areas that are difficult to objectively weigh, measure or quantify is time-wasting, contentious and judgmental as the Nantaba case clearly demonstrates. MPs should worry more about the high level of dishonesty among top civil servants. 
 
This is where Parliament has to do something radical to contain corruption in the civil service. 
 
Where was Parliament when ghosts workers practically ran amok skimming billions of tax payers’ cash from primary schools’ payrolls and retirement benefits from the ministry of public service?
 
Lecturer at Kampala International University

Review rules for vetting ministerial nominees

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