Tororo Woman MP Sarah Opendi yesterday told the rules committee, probing accusations labelled against Army MP Gen. Elly Tumwine that she witnessed the general making utterances that demeaned the institution of Parliament and questioned the authority of the Speaker.
Opendi, who is also the state minister for health in charge of general duties, was summoned by the committee on rules, discipline and privileges, chaired by Kenneth Ongalo Obote, after Tumwine told the committee that she was present during the contentious meeting with Bukonzo West MP Atkins Katushabe, at his office.
Last month, Katushabe accused Tumwine of having demeaned the Speaker in a private meeting, held in his office, when the former had gone to lodge a complaint about the closure and heavy security deployment at the Babughirana and Alisam abattoirs in Kasese district, with soldiers given shoot-to- kill orders.
In his testimony to the committee, Katushabe said during an engagement with the minister on July 22, what was initially meant to be a cordial conversation, turned sour when Tumwine was asked about the heavy security deployment. Katushabe said when he informed Tumwine that the matter would be reported to Parliament, the general, instead, bellowed:
“Who is Speaker? What is Parliament? The Speaker rules over Parliament, she does not rule over Uganda. This country was liberated by the army, not by her Parliament. Do not tell me about your Parliament. The army cannot be directed by civilians.”
Opendi bolstered Katushabe’s case when she told the committee that it was true that she was in attendance of the said meeting and that the general really made those unfortunate remarks labeled against him and even more, that she could not disclose.
“When I see him deny what he said before me, I get lost. I actually find what he said to the committee as not being honest,” she said.
It is at this point that the Bugweri County MP, Abdu Katuntu, asked the minister for her opinion towards the utterances and conduct of her fellow cabinet minister in questioning the powers that be at Parliament.
“My observation is that Gen. Tumwine is a bully.” Opendi stated.
The legislators, however, quizzed the minister on whether it was appropriate for Katushabe to bring a private matter to the floor of Parliament, wondering if the issue was not just blown out of proportion.
The committee further cited an inconsistence on why Katushabe had deliberately omitted Sarah Opendi’s name from his testimony informing the committee that he was with the general alone, only to be disapproved by the latter, who brought it to the attention of the committee that actually it is Opendi who initiated the meeting and was in attendance all through.
Katuntu further put it to Opendi to explain herself on whether she is not biased in her submission, given that Tumwine had pointed out that the two witnesses are lovebirds. He also wondered how she got involved in the Kasese issues.
“In what capacity did you get involved in the issues of Kasese?” Katuntu asked.
She responded by telling the legislators that she did what she did out of courtesy and given that the matter was in the public domain, she felt it upon herself to help in case she could, but not because Katushabe is her husband.