Uganda Government to lose Billions over PAC intervention (redpepper 21.04.2013)

PAC dura session

PAC dura session

THE INTERVENTION of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Com Constitutional Court seeking compensation for alleged reckless and unparliamentarily language the MPs used against committee (PAC) in the Dura Cement compensation is likely to cost Government more money.

The lawyers of Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA), who represented this cement factory after its contract to produce cement at Dura in western Uganda was halted, have petitioned the Constitutional Court seeking compensation for alleged reckless and unparliamentarily language the MPs used against them.

“On February 12 and 13, Parliament debated and adopted the PAC report with some modifications. The Parliamentary debate mentioned above consisted unguided, unjust and callous personal attacks on me and other partners under KAA fashioned in summary, reckless and unparliamentarily language as evidenced by the Parliamentary Hansard inter alia; at P.6473 KAA should be blacklisted, it is looting the people of Uganda,” one of the KAA lawyers, Elly Karuhanga, states in his affidavit in support of the case. the lawyers; Karuhanga, Peter Kabatsi, Oscar Kambona, David Mpanga, Sam Mayanja, Dr. Charles Kallu Kalumiya and Joseph Matsiko, claim it was wrong for Parliament to inter-meddle in this Dura compensation after it had been determined by Court and the Attorney General (AG) had consented to it.

“The act and conduct of Parliament in purporting to carry out another financial and value for money Audit of and over and above the said Auditor General’s report and make findings of financial loss to Government is inconsistent and in contravention of articles 2, 79 (1) and 3 and 163 of the constitution. The conduct of the Parliament whilst debating, considering and adopting the PAC report of purporting to challenge and overturn a judgment given by court of law in case of Dura Cement Vs AG is in contravention of the constitution,” reads in part the Constitutional Petition. They also assert that Parliament’s action of purporting. They also assert Parliament’s action of purporting to regulate and discipline the legal profession by wantonly accusing them of unfounded professional misconduct and causing financial loss, inter-meddling in advocate/client relationship and ordering their being blacklisted was unconstitutional. Through their lawyers of Muwema and Mugerwa Advocates and Didas Nkurunziz and Company Advocates, KAA lawyers are seeking general damages to be paid for the inconvenience, damage and injury occasioned to them by Parliament and cost of the petition with certificate for two counsels.

BACKGROUND

In 2008, KAA represented Dura Cement in a case it was seeking USD103.4m and interest at 25% for loss of earning for a period of 21 years after its contract to produce cement was cancelled. After the case was filled, the Commercial Court ordered the parties to go for mediation and consultations were made between the office of the President, Solicitor General (SG), Auditor General, Ministry of Finance, that of Energy and Mineral Development, the Department of Geological Survey, KPMG Audit firm on behalf of Government and KAA on behalf of Dura Cement.

After the consultations, it was agreed that Government pays Dura US$14m as special damages for cancellation of mining lease, US$2m as general and legal costs at 2.5% of the total sum. This money was supposed to be paid in one lampsum and would accumulate an interest of 8% from the date of judgment till payment in full. On December 20, 2010 Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) assessed and demanded Shs.10.7bn in taxes from this compensation. KAA lawyers however engaged URA and it dropped its demand.

It was after all these had happened and Parliament had even passed a supplementary expenditure for statement of this Dura claim that PAC turned to probe this compensation, a thing the lawyers claim, was illegal. The lawyers are also seeking permanent injunction prohibiting Government, its other arms and agents from purporting to reconsider or query this claim. They further want the “reckless” statement made by MPs during the debating and adopting the compensation of February 13 and 13, 2013 expunged from the Parliament Hansard.

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