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Parliament approves foreign affairs minister

By Nicholas Wassajja

Added 1st July 2016 11:25 PM

Oryem in a jovial mood narrated to journalists that his interface with the committee was an enlightening engagement

Parliament approves foreign affairs minister

The state minister for international affairs, Okello Oryem

Oryem in a jovial mood narrated to journalists that his interface with the committee was an enlightening engagement

Vetting of recently appointed ministers that missed out on the exercise done by the parliament's appointments committee went on Friday morning.

Lawmakers are in Article 113(1) constitutionally mandated to vet the vice president, prime minister and the cabinet to either approve or reject the president's nominees if deemed not suitable.

The state minister designate for international affairs Okello Oryem who missed out because he was on official duty outside the country went through successfully while the 1st Deputy Prime Minister Moses Ali who is currently recuperating from illness, reportedly didn't make it.

In an interview with the New Vision on Thursday, Ali said that he was admitted at St. Francis Hospital, Rubaga on May 20 over high blood pressure and diabetic complications but was discharged under control on June 7.

Oryem in a jovial mood narrated to journalists that his interface with the committee was an enlightening engagement in which he was able to eloquently answer all the questions put to him raging from his academic qualifications to the country's foreign policy.

"Considering the fact that I've been in the docket, most of the questions were around our foreign property, peace and security and the welfare of Ugandans working abroad but in particular the Middle East but I was able to assure their worries because it's through my past performance that the appointing authority redeployed me," Oryem said.

Going into details in a separate interview with the New Vision, Oryem said that government is undertaking renovation of foreign missions with the embassies in Brussels and USA and complete a new one being erected in Kigali, Rwanda.

However he added that, "We have a manpower shortfall because our financial ceiling has not been raised in a while so we can't recruit new stuff outside the wage bill. We also share concerns with Ugandans that are unemployed but for safety purposes, we discourage any person from going to the Middle East countries to do ordinary jobs like housekeeping because the culture and manner in which foreigners doing odd jobs are treated is awful."

Others that appeared before the committee were Kanyum county MP Ismael Orot, the designate minister of state for works and Harriet Ntabazi, the designate minister of state for industry.

The duo were rejected earlier because Orot reportedly lacked the requisite academic qualification for A 'level or its equivalent while Natabazi is said to have presented her academic documents, curriculum vitae and a sworn affidavit that were inconsistent in her dates of birth.

The Uganda Advanced Certificate in Education (UACE) or its equivalent is the required qualification for appointment as minister just like for MPs.

Orot whose political challenger Kevin Ikiror questioned the same qualifications during the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party primaries, refuted the claims that he is uneducated shortly after appearing before the committee that is chaired by speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga.

"I have been submitting my academic documents that needed clarity because earlier I hadn't presented my affidavit that I had changed my names when I converted from Christianity to Islam," explained Orot who was not clear on whether he was successful in convincing the committee to approve him.

The media is currently awash with reports of over 28 members being ejected from parliament by the courts of law for electoral fraud and the larger number for lack of academic qualifications.

In 2011, the appointments committee rejected Muyanja Mbabali and Nasser Ssebagala for ministerial appointments over lack of requisite qualifications. Muyanja the Bukoto South MP then was subsequently kicked out of parliament over the same.   

Unlike other nominees that arrive early before their indicated time and wait from the visitors lounge to be called upon, Natabazi was seen dashing to the committee, a few minutes later than 11:30 that she was expected but we were unable to interview her as she sneaked out of the committee through the back door.

According to Chris Obore, the director of communications, the earlier rejection of the duo was to allow them time to sort out a few things.

He said that, "President Yoweri Museveni communicated to the committee indicating they should review their scrutiny because the hitch is correctable."

However sources privy to the committee proceedings said that the president's communication was explicitly to vet Ali and Oryem that missed out because of known reasons.

They expressed concern that the duo's uncalled for appearance before the committee might be a ploy to covertly approve them.

The committee that first met between June 14 and 16 to vet the Prime Minister and 77 cabinet and state ministers also rejected Adrian Tibaleka, the nominee state minister for the elderly and disabled for allegedly failing to answer questions regarding her docket.

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