By Xavier joreen
The Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga Thursday said the recent statements from the Judiciary and the Executive arms of government concerning the Shs10 billion COVID-19 cash allocation to Parliament is an indication of a direct attack on the Legislature.
Her statements follow a High Court order directing all MPs to refund monies deposited on their personal accounts as facilitation for activities to control further spread of coronavirus in Uganda. Each MP received Shs20 million.
The decision by Justice Michael Elubu was in response to a petition by Ntungamo MP Gerald Karuhanga contesting the manner in which Parliament allocated the said money.
Prior to the court decision, President 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 before adding that the MPs action was morally and legally wrong given the fact that the country is facing a virus crisis.
But Ms 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 Mr Karuhanga withdrew his application. She also slammed 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,” Ms Kadaga said.
She questioned why everyone was fixated with the allocation to Parliament when money was equally appropriated to other institutions.
She cited Shs15 billion to NAADs, Shs59 billion to the Office of the Prime Minister, Shs94 billion to Ministry of Health, Shs6 billion to the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, Shs165 billion for each district, Shs55 million 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 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.
Ms 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 paying drivers, fueling and others is still with the legislators.
“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 urged lawmakers not to panic and to only follow the guidance she offered concerning the expenditure of the Shs20 million 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?” Ms Kadaga questioned.