The Principal Private Secretary to the President (PPS), Molly Kamukama has denied having made directives to the Ministry of Lands to authorize what is now considered to have been illegal payments from the Land Fund to illegitimate land owners.
Kamukama on Monday morning appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into land matters to respond to queries relating to correspondences she made on behalf of the President that saw billions of money paid to wrong claimants to the Land Fund.
Three persons including a lawyer identified as Richard Buzibira, businessman Robert Mwesigwa Rukaari and a city pastor known as Daniel Walugembe are among those said to have exploited the letters authored by Molly Kamukama to acquire huge sums of money for compensation of land they never had claim on.
On Monday, the Commission tasked the Principal Private Secretary to the President to explain the basis upon which she was issuing these correspondences and what the purpose they were meant to fulfill.
Her appearance follows the submissions made to the Commission by the Lands Minister, Betty Amongi last week in relation to the alleged inefficiencies in the Land Fund.
Minister Amongi testified that some of the payments from the land fund were a result of President Museveni’s directives, prompting the commission to summon Kamukama.
“In a country where we run a presidential system where executive power is exercised on behalf of the President by the Minister, it becomes difficult, where you have a directive that must be followed up by the Minister. You will have no choice but to abide by,” Betty Amongi told the Commission.
She stated that she was under intense pressure to act on the directives from the President which often informed why she in return piled pressure on officials in the Uganda Land Commission to expedite processes.
Lead Counsel to the Commission, Ebert Byenkya on Tuesday told Kamukama; “Buzibira received Shs 13 billion from the Land Fund claiming he had powers of attorney to the land. One of the things he seems to be armed with is the letter from you”.
On his part, Rukari was awarded a staggering Shs 3.7 billion and told the Commission recently that he made a profit of Shs 2.2 billion.
“We think these payments are not proper, looking at the pattern and the frequency within which they were made. We think this was a scheme. These letters seem to be flying around and people are using them as anexcuse,” Byenkya asked Kamukama.
He asked whether she had knowledge that officials including the Minister of Lands, Betty Amongi were considering these correspondences as directives from the President to effect the said payments.
But Kamukama in response said her communication to the Minister was only purposed to bring land related complaints raised to the President to the Ministry’s attention.
“My letters are for attention and management. I don’t know what they categorize as authority because for me, my issue is – I will have raised the issue with you. It is upon you to investigate and pay according to the entity’s laws and mandate,” she said.
“The management of the matter is up to you eventually when you make your final decision as an Accounting Officer or Minister, you brief the President about it,” Kamukama added.
She said that these are not mere ‘flying letters’ but serious issues that are brought to the attention of the President by complainants seeking redress.
“Someone has petitioned to the President and they need attention or a service. So, the relevant agencies must investigate them. What will happen if we receive those letters and keep quiet?” the PPS wondered.
The PPS further explained that her letters are worded in such away that they are not indicative of a directive but rather an instruction from the President to have the particular matters forwarded to the respective agencies.
“A Presidential directive states so and it is in English different from a letter that requires management of an issue.”
According to her, Accounting Officers have the discretion to act in accordance to the law and thereafter make a report to the President explaining why they took a certain decision since they are Senior officers that are also accountable.
As a way forward, Ms Molly Kamukama proposed that more safeguards be put in place to ensure approvals from the President are more stringent.