Musenero Covid cash spirals to IGG

Science, Technology, and Innovation minister Monica Musenero addresses the media at Parliament on May 17, 2022. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Dr Musenero said: “If there is in anyway, in my work and in the way I handled things, offended anybody, I regret those things and I will work to build a reputation and to build the science.” 

Parliament has given the Inspectorate of Government three months to further investigate allegations of financial mismanagement against the minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Monica Musenero. 

“We have agreed as a House that there are some burning issues such as abuse of office, money that has been lost, that we refer  this and give the IGG three months  to report back on the action taken,” Speaker Anita Among said yesterday. 

The resolution was reached during a morning plenary session when the House adopted, with amendments, the select committee report tabled on May 11 that first investigated the claims. 

The report highlighted gross irregularities, including Shs2.6b unaccounted for and made recommendations, including the disbandment of the   Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE), and for the minister responsible (Dr Musenero) to be held liable for alleged mismanagement. 

Mr Dan Kimosho (Kazo County)   moved a motion to amend the report to urge the Executive to cause the minister to step aside as investigations continue. 

Dr Musenero said: “If there is in anyway, in my work and in the way I handled things, offended anybody, I regret those things and I will work to build a reputation and to build the science.” 

In the 10-page response to the committee findings, Dr Musenero termed the allegations against her as “unsubstantiated...not in good faith and caused a lot of discomfort, frustration, annoyance to our dedicated scientists, who, like me, have dedicated their lives to find cure and protection for our citizens and ourselves”. 

She further highlighted her commitment and service in the fight against dangerous diseases.

Her appeal, however, did not move many legislators as she became the main point of discussion as the House debated the report.

But Dr Abed Bwanika (Kimaanya-Kabonera Division, Masaka City) vouched for the scientist, saying singling her out would be counterproductive to the science and innovations sector.  

“We must separate the inefficiencies between the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education, and [that of] Science where research falls, and Dr Musenero the scientist. If this Parliament fails to disassociate these, we will be seen as if we are killing innovation,” Dr Bwanika said.

In response, however, Ms Laura Kanushu (PWDs) said this does not exonerate one from accountability.

The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, advised against allocation of more funds to the entity before it is cleared. 

He also questioned why the Ministry of Science remains under State House, while Parliament resolved to house it under the Office of the Presidency. 

Speaking to journalists after the proceeding, Dr Musenero welcomed the IGG probe.

“The report refers to money which was lost but that money never left the Ministry of Science to go to PRESIDE scientists because PRESIDE itself didn’t receive any money. There was no money lost and Musenero never touched any money. Now, when you go to a technical institution like IGG, that is okay because we will sit [and] analyse the evidence. I am happy with the recommendations of the committee report, [although] they have some things which were not very accurate. We shall be telling the public what those facts are,” Dr Musenero said. 

“The problem comes when people don’t want to accept what is in the report and try to push things in the report. The reasons as to why we were attacked is because of the speed at which this research was moving. Things that countries took 10 years to work on, our country took one year,” she added.