We won’t return Shs40m ‘handshake’, say NUP MPs

The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, leads protests of Opposition Members at Parliament on February 22. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA. 

What you need to know:

  • The MPs received the money on Saturday night in what was called a token of appreciation after passing the supplementary budget of Shs618 billion. 

Lawmakers from the Opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) yesterday met and agreed to keep the Shs40m handshake.
The MPs received the money on Saturday night in what was called a token of appreciation after passing the supplementary budget of Shs618 billion
The agreement, according to MPs who spoke to this publication last evening, was sealed behind closed doors as a handful of the legislators caucused on the matter that pitted party leader, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, against lawmakers.     
The MPs sounded unapologetic and defended the decision as “the right thing to do at the moment” given the fact that the giver of the money does not want to be associated with it.  

The lawmakers also argued that it would be suicidal, if not insane, for any member to return the money to the giver when the Inspectorate of Government is aware of the scandal.    
The NUP MPs meeting, which was held at Parliament, was attended by 18 MPs out of the 57 NUP legislators. 
The Opposition Chief Whip, Mr John Baptist Nambeshe, did not attend the meeting. Sources told this publication that he had an urgent trip out of the country. 

Mr Nambeshe was tasked with receiving the cash from the MPs. He spent the bigger part of Monday and Tuesday waiting for the MPs to return the cash but none showed up.   
Some NUP MPs confessed to receiving the cash and even promised to return what some party officials castigated as “evil money” received for passing a supplementary budget.   
Mr Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, who chaired yesterday’s caucus meeting, told Daily Monitor that there were contradictions observed by the leadership in some members who backtracked on their statements of receiving the money. 

 “The reason I said the contradiction by the member requires a close internal inquest is to enable the party to take stern action. What should be clear to all is that the party can’t be complicit in the ping pong game of denials and contradictions,” Mr Mpuuga said. 
Sources that attended the caucus meeting at Parliament said: “The people who were ready to return the money had to think twice because they were the only ones willing to surrender. But you know that we have already used this money, we can’t have it now.” 

On Tuesday, four MPs admitted to this publication that they were beneficiaries of the Shs40m given to MPs.

READ: Govt overruns April budget despite call for modest spend 
The MPs received the money on Saturday night.
Our follow up on the four MPs a day later, however, was met with contradictory statements while other MPs declined to speak on the matter.
This publication understands that Dr Twaha Kagabo (Bukoto South), one of the four MPs who confessed to have received the money attended the caucus meeting.
“But about 30 MPs picked this money although they are not willing to come out and confess,” the sources said without naming the culprits. 

Asked about the MPs who had confessed to the leadership and later changed their word, Mr Mpuuga said, “Dr Kagabo informed the meeting that he had mistaken the gratuity he received on his account to be that money. That leaves the party with no option but to go under and get to the gist of the contradiction.” 
Mr Waiswa Mufumbiro, the NUP deputy spokesperson, last evening reiterated that what was resolved in the caucus meeting will be tabled before the executive committee for scrutiny before the party leadership takes action about the matter.