The Minister for Agriculture, Vincent Ssempijja has defended himself in the circumstances surrounding the controversial bulls taken from a government ranch in Kayunga for an NRM function in Kalungu.
The animals under question were taken by Ssempijja from Lusenke Stock Farm in Kayunga District to slaughter for his voters in Kalungu in 2019 but he has since been asked by parliament to explain himself over the matter.
However, in a letter to Speaker Kadaga, Ssempijja admitted that he got the cows but noted that it was through rightful means.
“I wrote to many agencies, institutions and individuals requesting them for support and indeed on October, 8, 2019, I wrote to the Executive Director NAGRC as I had done to other agencies,” Ssempijja says in his letter to Kadaga.
He adds that NAGRC “in their wisdom” decided through their contracts committee to approve and contribute 15 steers and that he was told the bulls would be delivered to the venue of the function.
“The animals in question were not bulls used in breeding programs but contracted young bulls. The impression that these bulls came from South Africa is also not true. This fact has also been clarified by NAGRC,” he says.
According to the minister, the animals were of a small type of East African Zebu cattle adding that the donation was regular.
“Rt.Hon. Speaker, based on the above fact, it is clear that I didn’t request or direct NAGRC to provide or release bleeding animals to be slaughtered at the above function but the decision to contribute the 15 steers was independently taken by NAGRC.”
The development comes at a time when Ayivu County Member of Parliament, Benard Atiku is set to table a motion to censure the Minister over the matter.
MPs sitting on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) early this year questioned the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Pius Wakabi Kasajja, to explain how Minister Ssempijja had taken away 15 bulls from a government ranch in Kayunga.
The Permanent Secretary in response said the minister had made a request for the animals to facilitate a political activity in his Kalungu County constituency in October 2019.
The Ministry undersecretary, Ronald Ssegawa Gyagenda also told the August House that Minister Ssempijja requested for financial assistance but the technical team instead decided to give him support in form of bulls.
“For this particular issue, the minister wrote to the Agency requesting for financial support. For this, we looked at the cows and all the awarding of the cows that were supposed to be disposed of. We followed the procurement procedures,” Gyagenda told Public Accounts Committee of Parliament chaired by Nandala Mafabi.