By URN/The Observer
The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party members of parliament have reportedly benefited from yet another cash bonanza from President Yoweri Museveni.
Each of the 317 NRM MPs who previously supported the lifting of the age limit is set to receive Shs 40m – just days after the clerk to parliament Jane Kibirige ordered the legislators to return Shs 20 million parliament allocated to each of the 438 MPs for COVID-19 activities.
The COVID funds allocated to MPs drew an ire from the public and an embarrassing back and forth public bickering between the executive and legislature – with Museveni casting the MPs for being inconsiderate by taking public funds at the time when the country was battling the coronavirus pandemic.
Museveni advised the MPs to return the money and directed the auditor general to audit the MPs who had already spent the money on relief items for their constituents within four months.
For publicly condemning them, last week, the MPs passed a motion of displeasure against the president only to turn around this week and pass a motion applauding Museveni for his exemplary leadership in the fight against COVID-19.
The new motion came after several reported meetings between the government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa and the NRM MPs. Now, as a reward for applauding the president according to Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Sekikubo, Kumi Woman MP Monica Amoding, Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu and Ntungamo Municipality MP Gerald Karuhanga, the 317 NRM MPs are slated to receive a total of 100 million each.
The ‘whistleblowing’ MPs told the media on Friday that some NRM MPs started getting Shs 40m as part of the money on Friday from Kati Kati Restaurant in Lugogo. Another Shs 60m will reportedly be paid later to the MPs to block the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Bill which is meant to provide midterm access to contributors of 20 per cent before their mandatory retirement age.
Amoding accused Nankabirwa of continuously allowing her office to be a channel for bribes to legislators.
“Now we have come to tell you they have got another Shs 40m. For what? For passing a motion to praise the president for a successful COVID intervention and weakening parliament and [speaker Rebecca] Kadaga in particular. The practise now is to get a turnover every time so the public will run after the MPs forgetting where the problem is. Dear Ugandans, this is a challenge to you while we may talk, we tell you all these things we raise them on the floor. We have told you, this is not the first time. We have told you many times,” Amoding said.
Adding; “And my sister Nankabirwa, I think Nankabirwa is the chief briber – the parliamentary chief briber because every corruption and bribe will start from the chief whip’s office and then it will transcend to the MPs. It is a shame, I’m ashamed to know that a woman who I should hold with high respect, who has been here [in parliament] for 25 years, who I should be looking at as the next people as the future presidents of Uganda is involving themselves in such kind of thing…Madam Nankabirwa you’re a total disappointment.”
Sekikubo reveals that even some NRM MPs who recently defended Kadaga’s stance on the controversial Shs 20 million have been left out this time on the cash-out.
Despite the public condemnation, Kadaga vehemently defended the MPs on the Shs 20m, saying the MPs have financial challenges in their constituencies and that the executive wanted to overshadow them in the COVID fight. She promised to expose the exorbitant expenditures of the executive.
“If indeed the Shs 20m was immoral and reprehensible, and moreover, that money was to the effect that take it to the people, at the end of the day account. But this one – you go and eat. Eat, eat! Take and eat, eat the elephant has fallen. Bring back the Shs 20m and take the Shs 40m. But also the discrimination, if it is given, unlike the other Shs 20m that was wired to all MPs. But nonetheless, we call on MPs, we call on the public, where is the bottom line on this? We’re in the middle of COVID. You can’t pay members to come and you rehabilitate your image. That they are paying tribute and before the ink can dry, they are paying Shs 40m.” said Ssekikubo.
These MPs demanded that Nankabirwa who allegedly distributed the money at different locations in Kampala explains the source.
“The 317 members who supported the age limit, we get a lot of fillers on what is happening on their WhatsApp group. This one person told me that Ssewungu; ‘you’re still crying about the Shs 20m, but every member of the 317 who supported the age limit is getting Shs 40m but he has to refund the Shs 20m first. Whether he ate the money, it is the chief whip to make sure the money is refunded.’ I thought it was a joke but the person showed me the message on the WhatsApp group by honourable Ruth Nankabirwa the chief whip. ‘Please the president is annoyed about this money, the money is evil kindly take it back and after taking it back look for me.'” Ssewungu said.
Karuhanga who recently successfully challenged the Shs 20m COVID cash to MPs in court vowed to once again challenge the payout to NRM legislators. He said this time, he will be suing both the bribery and the receiver.
Nankabirwa refuted the payout claims saying those alleging just feel bad that the president was recently applauded by parliament for his work towards the fight against COVID-19.