President Museveni’s move on ‘official’ graft leaves MPs in detention

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What you need to know:

  • On June 12, Ramathan Ggoobi, the Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury admitted that MPs have been tampering with the budget for years, moving government priorities and replacing them with other needs in their constituencies.
  • According to several Auditor-General’s reports, Uganda loses about 40% percent of its budget financing to corruption.

The arrest of three legislators — Lwengo District Woman MP Cissy Namujju, Bunyole West MP Yusuf Mutembuli, and Busiki County MP Paul Akamba — over corruption and budgetary distortion allegations left many of their peers on edge.

In his State of the Nation address on June 6,  President Yoweri Museveni admitted that corruption by politicians and civil servants was a major hindrance to the country’s development.

Museveni told the MPs that he had obtained evidence of a racket within Parliament and the Finance Ministry where ministries and government departments were being asked for bribes so the size of their budgets could be increased, leading to the altering of the budget annually.

He added that the President’s Office and State House were not immune from the vice, saying officials solicit money from investors promising to link them up with the president.

Two days later, three members of Parliament’s Budget Committee were detained, arraigned before court and remanded. The prosecution contends that the three MPs solicited a bribe from the Uganda Human Rights Commission so as to influence an increase in its budgetary allocation.

On Wednesday, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Joel Ssenyonyi called for expanded corruption investigations to include the Parliamentary Commission, accusing it of lacking transparency and reportedly holding secretive meetings without his involvement.

“They meet to award contracts in some cases where there is conflict of interest because some of the companies that are awarded contracts, belong to people who sit in some of these small meetings and maybe that is why, they don’t invite some of us for these meetings because we shall ask questions,” he said.

This comes at a time a section of parliamentarians led by Theodro Ssekikubo are seeking about 170 signatures to censure four commissioners accused of awarding themselves Ush1.7 billion ($449,060).

Some MPs claim the ongoing CID investigations have sent shockwaves within the house with some legislators opting to briefly take trips abroad and some staying away from the house.

According to several Auditor-General’s reports, Uganda loses about 40% percent of its budget financing to corruption.

Sources within the Uganda police CID department said that detectives will also be targeting accounting officers of government MDAs, Civil service and district accounting officers.

On June 12, Ramathan Ggoobi, the Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury admitted that MPs have been tampering with the budget for years, moving government priorities and replacing them with other needs in their constituencies.

“Uganda has a lot of budget games. We have several priorities and enablers of economic growth and we put the resources there and then present the budget then parliament sits in a room and says ‘no, cut that money’ and they allocate their resources,” he said.

“And they say, ‘now the most critical priorities are these; a primary school in my constituency, a water source there, some bridge.’ They go ahead and put the money there. Some tell the accounting officers’ "Do you want more money, yes come and talk to us, we shall put more money but you must return some.”

The four include former Leader of the Opposition in Parliament and Nyendo-Mukungwe MP, Mathias Mpuuga. The others are Bukooli County Central MP Solomon Silwany, Zombo District Woman MP Esther Afoyochan, and Rubanda District Woman MP Prossy Akampurira.