Oulanyah Defends Appointments Committee

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In short
Story of an Interview with Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah on appointments committee mandate

Deputy Speaker of parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, has advised the four ministerial appointees whose nominations were rejected by the parliamentary appointments committee to explain their competence and qualification to the president instead of seeking rushing to court prematurely.

Oulanyah, who by virtue of being a deputy speaker is the vice chairman of the appointments committee, told journalists at parliament today that they did not overstep their boundaries when they rejected the appointment of the nominees.

The committee rejected the appointments of Saleh Kamba, Nasser Sebaggala, James Kakooza and Muyanja Mbabali to various portfolios in Museveni’s recently announced cabinet. They also reportedly advised the president to consider removing Second Deputy Prime Minister, Henry Kajura, from the Public Service docket.

But since then, accusations have been leveled against the committee, for the secret manner in which it conducts its business.

Amama Mbabazi, the new Prime Minister, also weighed in last week, saying that the committee went overboard by advising for relocation of Kajura. Mbabazi reportedly insisted that the allocation of portfolios is only a prerogative of the president and not the committee.

But Oulanyah explained that the constitutional role of the president to appoint is not complete without a parliamentary approval. He confirmed that the allocation of which portfolio to allocate is for the president, adding that they were free to advise the president based on what they had got out of a nominee’s capability during the vetting, and the president was free to take or reject the advice.

He said that the president’s authority on appointments was wide and it is up to him to name fresh people or send back the same name to the entire house to consider if he so wishes.

Pressed further to tell what specific reason the committee based on to throw away the appointees, Oulanyah said they had gone through all the papers of Sebaggala and Kamba during the vetting and that there was nothing new with that, an indication that the two were rejected on reasons other than academic, most likely moral and integrity considerations.

The deputy speaker revealed they had already agreed to start discussions on how to open up the vetting to the public to avoid doubts and suspicions of the committee work.

He explained that Rule 139 (2) of the parliamentary rules of procedure says that, “The proceedings of the Appointments Committee shall be closed”. He said if MPs through a plenary debate agreed to an amendment that would be considered. 
Oulanyah said there was no provision for them to re-sit afresh to reconsider the same appointees except if the president requests them to.