Newly appointed Internal Affairs minister Gen. Aronda Nyakairima is being dragged to the Constitutional Court for allegedly accepting appointment to the cabinet before resigning or retiring from the army.
Gen. Aronda’s accuser is a city advocate, Eron Kiiza, who works with Niwagaba, Mwebesa Advocates. Kiiza is seeking court’s orders to interpret and pronounce itself on whether it’s constitutionally right for a serving army officer to ascend to cabinet.
Also sued is the Attorney General Peter Nyombi, who is the government chief legal advisor.
The lawyer argues that the act of the President in appointing Gen. Aronda is inconsistent with and contravenes Articles 2, 99 (1) (2), (3), 208 (2), 201, 209 and the preamble to the constitution. He notes that Aronda is a serving officer of the UPDF barred by Section 99 of the UPDF Act 2005 from seeking political office prior to resigning or retiring from the defense forces. Kiiza is seeking court’s orders to interpret and pronounce itself on whether it’s constitutionally right for a serving army officer to ascend to cabinet.
Kiiza blames the Attorney General for both faults of President Museveni and the Parliamentary Commission who illegally appointed and approved General Aronda to the cabinet post. He now wants court to immediately reverse Aronda’s appointment because it might take Uganda back to the days of political unrest as it was when military rulers such as Field Martial Idi Amin Dada were in power.
Court is yet to summon the Attorney General and Gen. Aronda for a response.
Aronda was appointed to cabinet in May after being dropped as Chief of Defence Forces during a reshuffle. His appointment was however challenged by some legislators, opposition and civil society actors, who argued that it contravened the Constitution.
Parliament finally vetted and approved him last week, though opposition MPs walked out of the House in protest.
But the soldier-cum-politician seems to be unbothered by the latest developments. While taking over office on Wednesday, Gen. Aronda told a fully packed boardroom with all internal affairs department heads of a Presidential directive for him to come and complete unfinished business at the ministry.
He stated that when he took an oath in State House on Saturday, the President told him to go to Internal Affairs and complete the Identity Card project to help fight crime in the country.
Forgetting the controversy surrounding his appointment without resigning from the military, Aronda added that in the military once an order of statement of mission is read like that he hits the road running.
In February this year, it was reported that the Ministry of Defence had taken over the multibillion shillings national identity card project.
On March 19, 2010, the Government contracted Muhlbauer Technology, a German firm at a whopping cost of 230.9 billion shillings to supply technology and other related services for the National Security Information System, which was being handled under the Internal Affairs ministry.
But by March 2012, the project had stalled due to inadequate funds after releasing only 400 IDs for the over 34 million Ugandans.
Gen. Aronda says they are not going to start from scratch because all the necessary requirements are available unless internal bickering will fail it. He also cautioned that any foreigner found living in the country illegally without a working permit will be shown the exit.
Gen. Aronda stated that he will ensure a complete balance of majority rights and freedoms against individual rights and freedoms.
The longest serving army chief noted that the handover would have taken place the day after he handed over the UPDF leadership to Gen. Katumba Wamala. However, it did not because Uganda chose to submit itself to champion the rule of law and to do everything to develop democracy. Through this he was subjected to a certain process leading to the delay of the function.
Aronda then took a swipe at the media cautioning them against writing what he called unbalanced stories about the police. He warned that in his new position, he is going to refer back to the new undertakings when the Monitor and Red Pepper Publications were closed and reopened two months ago.
Outgoing Minister Hilary Onek had earlier stated that there is need for every Ugandan citizen to get a national identity card free of charge. The Electoral Commission is requesting for 1.2 trillion shillings to register voters while the Ministry of Internal Affairs is asking for 100 million for national IDs.
He also revealed that Uganda should be having about 65,000 Police officers to match the population but there are only 43,000 most of them concentrated in Kampala. This implies that handling crime outside Kampala is a challenge.
State Minister for Internal Affairs James Baba reported challenges such as welfare of staff in police, prisons, civil servants, and government laboratory, small weapons and community service departments.
However, the main challenge, according to the minister, has been civil disobedience especially within Kampala which needs to be balanced.