The minister for the presidency has aised the Permanent Secretary in the defence ministry to resign if she cannot perform.
Minister Frank Tumwebaze was appearing before the select committee investigating irregularities in the Standard Gauge Railway project.
The minister dismissed claims by Rosette Byengoma recently that he pressurized her to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with a Chinese firm China Harbor for the project against the Solicitor General’s aice, describing the allegation as blackmail.
Early this month, Ms Byengoma told the House Select Committee that Mr Tumwebaze placed calls to her, directing her to sign an MoU with CHECL which she eventually signed on April 18, 2013 even though the Solicitor General (SG) had raised a red flag over the matter.
Although Mr Tumwebaze admitted to have made calls as a follow up to Presidential assignments under his docket, he challenged Ms Byengoma to produce evidence on what pressures were exerted onto her rather than attempting to “to escape responsibility.”
Signed against the aice
The Defence ministry signed the MoU with CHECL against the aice of the SG who had warned that it was irregular for the ministry to sign the document without approval from the Ministry of Works and Transport.
“We were being pushed to quickly sign before the April 21  deadline. I got a call from the minister himself – Tumwebaze so I was told to sign the MoU because it was delaying the whole process. He [Tumwebaze] is the one that called me last,” Ms Byengoma said.
The deal to construct the railway line hit a snag after Works state minister John Byabagambi cancelled an understanding with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) to construct the eastern route of the line and handed the project to another China Harbour Engineering Corporation (CHEC).
The wrangles surrounding the deal have since sucked in several government agencies and Mr Museveni with different ministries canvassing support for rival firms with the President said to favour CHEC.
The Attorney General and the Solicitor General insist Mr Byabagambi’s cancellation of the CCEC deal is illegal — a position backed by a court ruling that dismissed the minister’s actions as irrational.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor