As the Commission of Inquiry into land matters faces more scrutiny over accountability and legality from MPs and sections of the public, Parliament’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs Chris Obore has accused the team and its boss, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, of only working to attract media attention.
According to Obore, the kind of language and tone Justice Bamugemereire uses is not meant to be used in law courts.
“It is now getting worse that the Judiciary, which was known for being sober and measured, is now clamouring for media attention. The judges feel they are left out in the competition for public attention. Now Bamugemereire has taken it to another level. She actually shouts and speaks English like an A-level student eager to impress,” Obore wrote on his Facebook page.
His remarks come as the Commission is in the spotlight over failure to account for Shs13 billion it received from the Ministry of Finance amid accusations of extravagant expenditure. Several government officials who have appeared and been harangued before the commission are now quietly looking at a possibility of challenging the Commission’s Final Report, basing on its tendency to overstep their mandate and failure to follow rules of natural justice.
However, Obore warned Bamugemereire and her team to stop dramatising the commission proceedings.
“The trend public officials are taking of struggling to capture media and public attention unnecessarily is dangerous for our governance. Instead of letting their work speak for them, they want to force public discussions about them. Though politicians need media, they also need to set the pace in maintaining public decorum. What happens when the public gets fed up with both the politicians and the judges? What happens when politicians use politics to respond to the ridicule from the judiciary? We seem to have lost responsible senior leaders in all sectors. You are already a judge who will decide anyway, so why dramatiSe?” Obore wrote.
Bamugemereire’s commission has for the past two days been grilling Lands minister Betty Amongi over allegation of stealing property. Bamugemereire acted very tough on Amongi who had previously refused to kowtow to the summons from the land commission until the President had to force her to attend.
The commission has faced scrutiny over work methods. Recently, Opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye poured scorn on the work of the Commission, saying it is a public relations exercise not meant to resolve land conflicts in the country.
Appearing on the NBS TV breakfast show on Thursday morning, Dr Besigye said the land problems such as grabbing and forgery of land titles will never end as long as power remains in the hands of afew.
“Land grabbing is going to remain a major problem and we as a country need to push back and fight for it, it’s not going to be solved by the Bamugemereire committee because that is largely a public relations exercise,” Dr Besigye said.
“As long as control of our power remains in a few hands, then they’ll continue disregarding the right of other including the land rights. Most of the land grabbing is happening within the customary land tenure,” he added.