Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga says that the recent statements from the Judiciary and the Executive concerning the 10 billion Shilling COVID-19 allocation to Parliament is an indication of a direct attack on the Legislature.
Her statements follow a High court order directing all Members of Parliament to refund monies deposited on their personal accounts as facilitation for activities to control the spread of Coronavirus Disease. Each MP received 20 million Shillings.
The decision by Justice Michael Elubu was in response to a petition by Ntungamo Municipality Member of Parliament Gerald Karuhanga contesting the manner in which parliament allocated the said money.
Prior to the court decision, President Yoweri Museveni condemned MPs for seeking to divert Ugandans from the current war against coronavirus by picking the money. Museveni said the MP’s fell into a trap by taking the money.
“It is morally reprehensible for MPs to give themselves money for personal use when the country is in such a crisis; totally unacceptable to me and the NRM. They have entered themselves into a trap and the best way out is to donate the money to the districts where they come from,” Museveni said.
But Kadaga says that the court order directing MPs to return the money to the Parliamentary Commission does not fully reflect the proceedings of the court where the applicant Gerald Karuhanga withdrew his application. He also attacked the Judge for taking over the appropriation role of Parliament.
“This is now new. A Judge appropriating money from the court? Appropriation is for parliament….that’s what the Constitution says. But a judge is sitting in court saying now he is appropriating? This is an attack on parliament by the Executive and the Judiciary,” Kadaga said.
She questioned why everyone is fixated with the allocation to parliament when money was equally appropriated to other institution’s. She cited 15 billion Shillings to NAADs, 59 billion Shillings to the Office of the Prime Minister, 94 billion Shillings to Ministry of Health, 6 billion Shillings to the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, 165 billion for each district, 55 million Shillings for each RDC and others for COVID-19 activities.
“The MPs have been spending money over a long time, personally I think….almost 200 million spent in these things already. We started spending even before this supplementary came. If MPs show you messages on their phones, nine out of 10 are asking for food. So for anybody has to say that we should not be visible. Why don’t they want us to be visible? We are elected leaders. So they want to go and show they care more about these people than we whom they elected. This is wrong and we shall not accept it,” the Speaker said.
Kadaga further stated that MPs handed over their 270 ambulances to the Ministry of Health to help in the response against COVID-19 but the responsibility for the payment of drivers, fueling and others is still with the legislators.
Speaking about that Executive reaction about the matter, Kadaga said that appropriate action about the attack was going to be taken saying that there should be no interference as long as Parliament follows the Constitution.
“We are concerned that we are being attacked by the Executive and we are going to take appropriate action on that issue as well. We are three arms of government, we all have responsibilities under the Constitution and we are carrying out responsibilities. So there should be no interference in our work as long as we follow the Constitution,” she demanded.
She comforted legislators not to panic and to only follow the guidance she offered concerning the expenditure of the 20 million Shillings that each of them received.
“The guidelines I gave follow the National Audit act and the rules of procedure. So how will they account to the Judiciary?” Kadaga questioned.