The former Chief of Defence Forces, quoted section 38 (2) of the UPDF Act 2005 that he said permits him to serve as minister
State Minister for Works, Gen Katumba Wamala, has scoffed at people who have gone to the Constitutional Court challenging his ministerial appointment while still a serving army officer.
Robert Mugisha and Deusdedit Bwengye in their complaint filed last Monday, state that the appointment of Gen Katumba to a partisan portfolio as State Minister of Works is a violation of the Constitution.
The duo contend that Katumba’s appointment is against Uganda Peoples Defence Forces’ (UPDF) cardinal rule of being nonpartisan and subordinate to civilian authority under Article 208 (2) of the Constitution and section 99 of the UPDF Act of 2005.
They argue that his appointment by the President and his subsequent approval by Parliament on February 14, 2017, subject him to conflict of interest, which may compromise his office as a minister.
Gen Katumba, who is the former Chief of Defence Forces, quoted section 38 (2) of the UPDF Act 2005 that he said permits him to serve as minister.
“There is nothing illegal. Ask them to give you section 38 (2) of the UPDF Act and read what it says. Until the UPDF Act is repealed my appointment as state minister is in accordance with the law,” he told New Vision on phone.
When asked about the conflict of interest, Gen Katumba said; “I think that point of argument doesn’t make sense. Are they challenging the President, that the President is not the President of the country? Is the President not the President of the country which I am serving? If yes, then I am not serving an illegal system.”
Asked whether he was unnerved about the duo’s challenge in court, Katumba said no.
“It is okay; I will not be the first one. Let them to go to court, I will get free money from them.”
In 2013, lawyer Eron Kiiza challenged Museveni's appointment of the late Gen Aronda Nyakairima as the Internal Affairs Minister.
Kiiza argued that Aronda’s appointment was illegal because he had not retired from the army. Court is yet to determine whether that appointment was illegal.
In May 2010, Gen Jeje Odongo was forced to retire before being cleared as State Minister for Defence.
Museveni appointed Odongo minster a year before, but the defence and internal affairs committee of Parliament refused to approve him on the grounds that he was still a serving officer.
The committee also threatened not to pass his ministry’s budget unless the issue was resolved.