Musenero on the spot over Shs30b Covid cash

Dr Monica Musenero, the senior presidential advisor on epidemics. PHOTOS/FILE

What you need to know:

  • The directive came after the Ntungamo Municipality legislator, Mr Yona Musinguzi, yesterday laid on table a catalogue of documents that he termed as evidence pinning Dr Musenero.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ms Anita Among, has ordered an investigation into allegations against the Minister for Science and Technology, Dr Monica  Musenero, who is accused of misappropriating  Shs31 billion meant for the development of Covid-19 vaccines.

The money was channelled through the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE).

“Under rule 190, I will have a select committee to handle this issue and I will announce the members of the select committee tomorrow [today],” Ms Among said yesterday, adding: “We will give members of the select committee terms of reference.”

The directive came after the Ntungamo Municipality legislator, Mr Yona Musinguzi, yesterday laid on table a catalogue of documents that he termed as evidence pinning Dr Musenero.

Ntungamo Municipality MP Yona Musinguzi. PHOTO / DAVID LUBOWA 

Mr Musinguzi told the House that even when the minister claims to have sent the money to a team of doctors working on the vaccine, they did not receive it.

Denial of receiving money 
“When this money was sent to PRESIDE, it is purported that PRESIDE disbursed money to a group of scientists of which some of them have denounced and dissociated themselves from it,” Mr Musinguzi said.

He added: “One of them is a doctor at Uganda Virus Research Institute whom she (minister) purported that she sent her money to a tune of Shs1.8 billion, but the doctor has never seen the money.”

Dr Musenero is also alleged to have used her position to convince government that a local facility to manufacture local vaccines would be set up and yet it was only going to be a conduit through which a foreign company sells its vaccines as made in India.

“Madam Speaker, I have a memorandum of understanding between PRESIDE and a certain company in India called SAMRI which is a manufacturer of vaccines in India. So are we going to buy the vaccine from SAMRI or are we going to innovate it?” Mr Musinguzi asked.

Without naming individuals, the Ntungamo Municipality MP claimed  ‘vampires’ were using their position to siphon government resources through such illegal avenues.

“Corruption is a vampire that has sucked the blood of this nation, and we sit and dine with the vampires. We should no longer call them mafias, but they are vampires and they should be arrested,” Mr Musinguzi said.

Minister Musenero, the chief Presidential advisor on epidemics, was not in the House to respond to the allegations.
However, when the matter came up during plenary last week, the Deputy Speaker ordered Dr Musenero to return to Parliament with a comprehensive report, but she did not show up, angering  lawmakers, especially on the Opposition side.

“Is it a coincidence that this minister has run away and [Henry] Musasizi [the State Minister for Finance] wants to claim that he is that minister?” Mr Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the Kira Municipality MP, asked.
His Budadiri West counterpart, Mr Nathan Nandala Mafabi, recommended that the matter be referred to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for deeper scrutiny and be given three days to report back to the House tomorrow.

“Wouldn’t it be procedurally right that this matter be referred to PAC, given three days so that by Thursday before she comes to make response, the PAC committee will report whether she spent the money wrongly or correctly,” Mr Nandala said.
However, Ms Among instead said she would constitute a select committee to dig into the allegations.

She also instructed that the Internal Affairs minister accord Mr Musinguzi security after he expressed fears that he was not safe considering he had laid incriminating evidence against Dr Musenero.