The battle between the executive and legislative branch of government over the SIM card switch off last week still rages on, as yesterday Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Minister, Frank Tumwebaze was forced to apologize for defying the Members of Parliament’s resolution on the matter. In her opening remarks to the August house, Speaker Rebeca Kadaga faulted the executive on the loses and suffering that several people underwent countrywide, when the government maintained the May 19th deadline on SIM card verification and ordered that all unregistered and unverified SIM cards be switched off. Kadaga said that as the legislature, the executive should listen to Parliament’s voice.
“I just want to really advice the executive, to read the mood of the public and the parliament and act in the interest of our people. If you had listened to us, I think the disruptions of this past weekend would not have occurred. People have lost money, and even telecom companies have lost money, URA has lost money, ordinary people have suffered and people have been out of touch.” the Speaker of the house said.
During the heated debate, the members of parliament, urged the speaker to recommend strong actions against the ICT Minister, Frank Tumwebaze as a warning to other ministers not to disregard the opinion of parliament.
MPs also demanded to be advised on how they can proceed, whether they are going to be taking decisions or making resolutions that members of the executive will ridicule. The leader of opposition in parliament, Winnie Kiiza said the Minister must make a public apology. “I demand that the Minister comes here with a public apology for irresponsibly rebuking the powers of parliament and for taking the parliament for granted. So that in future we can know that we are the people’s representatives and we are a hand that takes decisions on behalf of the Ugandans.”
When given the opportunity to defend his decision to ignore, parliament’s resolution on Thursday last week, calling for the extension of the SIM card registration deadline, ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze informed the house he was performing his duty.
“The person here was tasked to communicate. Madam Speaker, I take responsibility for communicating a government position, because that’s the work I was given. If that angered this house, I take responsibility and I apologies for that”
The Speaker however pointed out that despite the minister’s apology, the phones that were switched off are still not on. Tumwebaze’s fate still lies in the hands of the committee on rules and discipline, where he will be questioned why he defied the institution.
“What I want is the rules committee to listen to the recording, read what was said, and advice us so that we know how to move with the issue of Honorable Tumwebaze” The Speaker advised.
Details on when the committee will meet is yet to be made public but it may come days after the president made his decision in NRM’s parliamentary caucus that the SIM card verification deadline be extended to August 30th and that unregistered SIM cards be switched back on.