KAMPALA – Ajivu County MP Bernard Atiku has said that he is ready to lead a censure motion against Agriculture minister Vincent Ssempijja, accusing him of abuse of office.
In a notice to the office of clerk to parliament, Atiku says his motion is based on grounds contrary to article 118(1) (a) and (b) of the constitution, the minister used his office to inappropriately take government cattle meant for breeding at a stock farm and slaughtered them.
“Hon Vincent Bamulanzeki Ssempijja while holding a portfolio of Minister of Agriculture and Animal industry abused office when he ordered for the withdrawal of several heads of cattle from Lusenke stock farm, a government owned ranch managed by National Animal Genetic Resources Center and Data Bank (NAGRC&DB) located in Kayunga district contrary to the provisions of the Animal Breeding Act 2001 and Public Procurement and disposal of Public Assets Act 2003,” Mr Atiku said in the notice.
Early this year, it emerged that the cattle Ssempijja took were part of those NAGRC & DB management bought in 2015. That year, according to the Audit report by the Auditor General, NAGRC & DB bought eight breeding bulls from South African farms valued at $212,000 for the purposes of extracting semen.
Ssempijja could not be reached out for comment but in an interview with The New Vision, the minister said he did nothing wrong and that the revelations are meant to taint his name.
“That was not stealing. There was a function I was having and everybody knew about it and it was announced over the media that the government was informing people of its achievements. We were supposed to invite large numbers of people and talk to them. So, I directed my staff to go and pick the animals and have them slaughtered for the celebrations,” Ssempijja said. “Check on all the ranches, it is not the first time I have done so. Check the records and see whether I have not been picking the animals on public functions,” the minister stated. Before noting that, “hoping nobody is blackmailing me,” he added.