This week, Hon. Joel Ssenyonyi, the leader of the Opposition in Parliament almost clashed with the Speaker ,Rt. Hon. Anita Among after he questioned the latter’s motive for trying to stir up members’ ire over the UK sanctions, even though she had previously in her communication claimed not to be bothered about them.

On Tuesday, the Deputy Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom Andrew Mitchell announced sanctions against Speaker  Among and two former ministers, marking the first instance of the UK government employing the Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions regime on individuals implicated in corruption within Uganda.

The trio, including two former ministers responsible for Karamoja, Uganda’s impoverished region, stand accused of corruption before Uganda’s Anti-Corruption Court. They face travel bans and asset freezes as punitive measures.

Mary Goretti Kitutu and Agnes Nandutu, the former ministers, allegedly misappropriated thousands of iron sheets intended for roofing and infrastructure projects funded by the government. Instead of aiding vulnerable communities as intended, they purportedly diverted the resources to influential politicians and their families. Speaker Among reportedly benefited from the proceeds of this scheme.

Deputy Foreign Secretary Mitchell condemned the actions, stating, “The actions of these individuals, in taking aid from those who need it most, and keeping the proceeds, is corruption at its worst and has no place in society.” He emphasized the necessity for accountability, affirming the Ugandan courts’ efforts to combat such corruption.

In response to the sanctions, the Speaker of Parliament calmly informed Ugandans and the world that she remained unfazed by the punitive measures, citing her limited ties to the UK. However, she candidly disclosed feeling targeted by Western powers due to her support for the Anti-Gay bill, expressing pride in her efforts to safeguard Ugandan values and integrity.

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“I am told [that] I have so many assets in the UK and lots of accounts in the UK. Unfortunately, I have only been to the UK once. I don’t even have a pussycat in the UK. I am not worried. And if they feel that I have property, go ahead and freeze them and see if I will complain. Even a pussycat, you can freeze,” she said.

She added; “Don’t even deceive yourself that I’m hurt! Me the Anita I know, me to be hurt over those sanctions! Forget”

However, Ssenyonyi came in and wondered why if the Speaker was not hurt would allow that House to take alot of time debating on the issue where the culprit is not bothered yet there are alot of items on the agenda.

“In your communication, you said you’re not bothered and you said that the only visa you’re concerned about is that to Bukedea! So you don’t care about the Visas to the UK, US and so on but why do you seem very bothered and angry with this issue? Because you also seem to be rallying us to join you and be angry with you over this matter!” he said.

In the echos of many orders from members seeking to defend the Speaker Ssenyonyi added; “But finally I want to implore the government not to wait for foreign countries to sanction individuals whether being involved in mabati theft in corruption and so on, take action. Why do you wait for that and then you begin to complain yet when you’re going to beg for aid you dont complain? When they sanction you that’s when you come up with your song of sovereignty.”

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However, Ssenyonyi’s submission did not leave the Speaker happy and she had to counter it in an angry dark tone by saying; “ LOP, I’m not bothered at all! I’m talking for the 48 million Ugandans outside there. I am sitting on this seat for the 48 mullion Ugandans there. Secondly, I dont get handouts from any of those  countries.”

Meanwhile, the imposition of sanctions on a figure of the Speaker’s stature raises significant concerns, particularly as she holds the prestigious position of chairperson for all Commonwealth countries. Given the UK’s central role as the “mother” of Commonwealth nations, the ramifications could be substantial, potentially leading to travel restrictions or even denials of entry to member countries.

The post How Ssenyonyi almost clashed with Speaker Among over UK Sanctions appeared first on Watchdog Uganda.


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