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Museveni probes Shs1.7b service award to Mpuuga, three other commissioners

Kampala, (UG):- President Yoweri Museveni has described as “immoral” the move by Parliamentary Commissioners including Leader of Opposition Mathias Mpuuga to award themselves Shs 1.7bn taxpayers’ money as service awards.

The President in a one-page letter dated May 03, made public on Sunday, May 12, 2024, asked the Attorney General, Mr Kiryowa Kiwanuka, if he was aware of the so-called service award the four MPs shared during the May 6, 2022 meeting that was reportedly chaired by the House Speaker Anita Among during the Parliamentary Commission’s 96th in her Boardroom at exactly 10 am.

“I have been following the public debate on the service awards apparently given to the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament and what you call back-bench Parliamentary Commissioners……Were you aware of these ‘awards’? Or the Attorney General does not need to know about this. If you were aware, did you advise that it was legal?” Mr Museveni asked.

“The moral question is settled. Such conduct is contrary to the revolutionary principles of the NRM. When we were fighting Obote and Amin, we used to call it primitive accumulation of wealth. Why? Officials under those regimes were trying to get for themselves as much money as possible in the quickest time possible, in the easiest way possible,” Mr Museveni asked.

“We used to ask them, “Where does this leave your country?” he added, before revealing how the Prime Minister and Finance Minister, who both sit on the parliamentary Commission informed him that they only learnt about it in the news, “even when they are members of the Parliamentary Commission.”

It should be understood that during the May 06 2022 meeting in which the MPs shared the service award, both the Prime Minister and Finance Minister Matia Kasaija were absent from the commission sitting with an apology.

President Museveni in his letter also wondered how the Parliamentary Commissioners, who apparently earn more than other MPs, awarded themselves all that money. “How can Parliamentary Commissioners, who apparently earn more than other MPs, award themselves all that money? What special services did they provide? Who approved the awards?” he further questioned.

“I am told that it was never discussed by Parliament or the Committee on Legal Affairs. Find out. When we are struggling to find money for roads, electricity, and other sectors that bring value into our economy? However, conduct which is only immoral and not illegal may not be punished legally but politically,” he said.

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The President therefore asked the AG Kiwanuka to advise on the legality of these service awards and see if they violated the Leadership Code or the Anti-Corruption Act. “If they did, what have the IGG and the CID done? Has everyone involved recorded statements? Is there an ongoing investigation? What about the DPP? If there is no legal but only a moral question, what has the NRM Parliamentary Caucus done?,” he wondered.

Early this year, a social media campaign on X dubbed #UgandaParliamentExbihition led by Makerere University lecturer and satirist Dr Jimmy Spire Ssentongo and journalist cum lawyer Agather Atuhaire sparked public outrage when documents of the service award went viral on social media.

The documents pinned Mr Mpuuga who is now a Parliamentary Commissioner and member of the Opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) at the centre of the blatant and extravagant award after he was allocated shs500m, while his colleagues including; Bukooli County MP, Mr Solomon Silwany, Rubanda district woman Ms Prossy Akampulira Mbabazi and Zombo district Woman MP Ms Esther Afoyochan, received Shs400 million each during the one-off sharing cash bonanza.

The NUP leadership upon learning about the award, summoned the Nyendo-Mukungwe legislator to return the money with a public apology and resign from the parliamentary commission which he has since snubbed.

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“Every decision of the Commission to confer or reward anyone under its charge, is subjected to the relevant committees of Parliament for legality, feasibility, sustainability and relevancy,” said Mpuuga in difance to his party calls, adding; “To call any such payments corruption is the highest level of spite, double standards and deliberate misrepresentation to the public and membership of the Party on a purely selfish and malicious mission.”

According to Mpuuga, “If such payments amounted to corruption, all current and previous MPs would be compelled to refund to the public coffers monies paid as gratuity or honoraria since no MP, current and previous was not paid gratuity at the determination of the parliamentary Commission.”

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