Uganda Parliament under attack from Executive and Judiciary over Shs10Bn saga

The Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga on April 30 disclosed that the recent statements from the Executive and Judicial arms of government pertaining to the Shs 10 bn COVID-19 cash that was allocated to the Parliament is an indication of a direct attack to the Legislature.

The speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga

During an emergency press conference with company of Parliamentary Commissioners, the speaker addressed reporters commenting on President Yoweri Museveni’s recent remarks on the money as well as the High Court ruling on Wednesday, 29 April which ordered the members of the Legislature to return it.

While addressing the nation on Tuesday, 28 April, the President stated that it is wrong for Members of Parliament to take the money for their personal activities especially during this critical period when the country is battling with the novel coronavirus pandemic. He explained that spending Shs 20m privately for themselves was not the plan for which the money was meant for rather, it would be morally reprehensible for them to support themselves financially when the country is in crisis. The President added that he had spoken with the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga and told her that the MPs have gotten themselves into trap. The money was supposed to be donated to the district taskforce where every MP comes from. Obviously, some local politicians would want to compete with MPs and marginalize them, the president also mentioned. Museveni further condemned MPs who had used the money in purchasing food relief that they have no mandate to purchase on behalf of government. He would be writing to the Auditor General to carry out an audit into the procurement of the relief by the individual MPs.

The High Court on their part concurred with petitioners Ntungamo MP, Gerald Karuhanga, Erute South MP that the Parliament’s allocation of Shs10bn to the Parliamentary Commission while passing the Shs304bn COVID-19 supplementary budget did not follow the standard. On giving his judgment, Justice Elubu ordered the Legislators to either return the Shs20m which they received individually to the Parliament Commission or hand it over to their respective district COVID-19 Taskforces that were assigned to fight the pandemic.

Reacting to the decision taking by the court, Rebecca Kadaga said that the order directing MPs to return the money to the Parliamentary Commission does not fully reflect the proceedings of the court where Mr. Karuhanga withdrew his application. The furious Speaker also slammed the judge over the appropriation role of Legislature and described it as an attack on the Parliament by the Executive and Judiciary. She questioned why everyone was fixated with the Parliament’s allocation when money was also appropriated to other sectors. She also read out the amount of money that was given to other groups together with the Shs 10bn given to the parliament that has ignited public outcry. The Speaker also told journalists that more details about the budget and the money will be disclosed to them in order to follow up. She added that since the Members of the Parliaments were elected by their various constituents that they ought to be visible to them as well as helping with their needs directly.

Furthermore, Ms Rebecca Kadaga assured Members of Parliament to ignore guidelines and orders from the Executives and Judiciary concerning the Shs 20m except the ones issued by her which follow their constitution and rules of procedure and also under the National Audit Act. She also told reporters not to be concerned only on the money allocated to the MPs but also stick to the government to explain how the various sectors are also utilizing the COVID-19 money allocated to them.

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