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Among blocks debate on corruption reports from the social media

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Speaker Among presided over a heated house today as Joel Senyonyi and Sekikuubo demanded for immediate answers about the ongoing alleged corruption within parliament on the social media

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Speaker of Parliament Anita Among has blocked debate on the corruption allegations against her. The Speaker, who has been in the limelight over an alleged scandal about the Parliamentary Commission funds said she will not respond to rumors.

It is the first time that Anita Among has spoken about the scandal almost two weeks after the Agora Discourse under #UgandaParliamentExhibition released documents alleging corruption.

The August House has been put on spotlight by a digital public square, Agora Discourse; Makerere University Tutor, Dr. Jimmy Spire Ssentongo; and Agatha Atuhaire (a journalist and lawyer). Through X, a micro-blogging service and social network, the activists have rallied the public to hold Parliament accountable for what they described as wasteful expenditure of public tax.

The documents indicated that Anita Among has been allocating billions of shillings to herself through some members of Staff of the Parliamentary Commission.

Some of the money was allegedly paid to the former Leader of the Opposition, now Parliamentary Commissioner, Mathias Mpuuga. Mpuuga has publicly accepted that he received the five hundred million shillings as a “service award”

The allegations rocked social media at the time when Parliament was not sitting. As the House resumed with Anita Among in the Chair on Friday Morning, it was anticipated that the speaker would comment on the allegations during her communication with the chair. She did not.

She instead directed that the House proceed with receiving the Ministerial Statements and Budget Estimates for the Financial Year 2024/2025 for scrutiny.

Realizing that the Speaker was about to “sweep the matter under the carpet”,  the outspoken Rwemiyaga member of Parliament, Theodore Sekikubo rose on a procedural matter and challenged the Speaker to comment on it because the credibility of Parliament was under challenge.

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“We are having a big problem, we cannot sit here as if nothing wrong has happened. I was amazed that in your communication you did not make a mention of the grave allegation against Parliament where I belong as member,” Sekikuubo charged.

Sekikuubo went on to remind the speaker that Parliament is there to exercise the oversight function as per article 79 of the constitution. “We are taking oversight role on other institutions and arms of government. But when it comes to us, we want to hide it under the carpet. And it is a shame to this house,” he added.

At the moment, the Speaker seemed to have run out of patience as she tried to interject as Sekikuubo spoke.

“Me to answer you on hearsay, on things you have cooked on social media because I have said no to bum shafting. I will not next item,” she vowed. The speaker seemed to blame her current woos on her role in considering and enacting the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023.

A similar allegation had been raised by Parliament publicist, Chris Obore. Some activists demanding that Parliament accounts said the issue of homosexuality was diversionary.

Earlier, Joel Ssenyonyi, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament had implored the Speaker to allow the House to debate the allegation against the institution of Parliament.

Ssenyonyi told the House that Anita  Among replied to his letter indicating that the earliest the Parliamentary Commission could sit is after 30th June 2024.

Ssenyonyi expressed dismay that the Commission last sat in August 2023 thus prolonging the meeting after June would be harmful to the matter of public interest at hand.

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Attempts by several other legislators to push Anita Among to allow debate on the matter fell on deaf ears.

Key among the financial misappropriations include the 1.7 billion Shillings that the Parliamentary Commission awarded the former Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga, and three other Commissioners from the ruling National Resistance Movement – NRM party.

The Opposition also wants a transparent explanation of how Mama Bukedea FM, a local radio station situated in Speaker Among’s constituency purportedly secured a 3 billion shillings advertising contract from Parliament.

Further, it’s alleged that a significant amount of money worth billions was disbursed under questionable circumstances to the private accounts of some parliamentary staff close to the Speaker for community outreaches and wants lawmakers to scrutinize.

Following the social media campaign and information from a whistle-blower, Beti Kamya Turwomwe, the Inspector General of Government – IGG said the corruption allegations levied against the institution of Parliament cannot be ignored, adding that her office has already commenced inquiries into the issue

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