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Why Museveni’s directive to audit MPs is a mere threat

Analysis

Why Museveni’s directive to audit MPs is a mere threat

President Museveni

President Yoweri Museveni

President Yoweri Museveni has directed the Auditor General of Government to Audit the Members of Parliament in the way they used the UGX20m that was allocated to them by Parliament. In his letter to the Speaker of Parliament Rebeca Kadaga, dated 28th April 2020, the President also directed the Minister of Health to audit the MPs who did not take the money to the Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) of their districts, to see whether they didn’t violate protocols that prevent gathering of more than 5 people, as they distributed the food.

Whereas the President has made it clear he’s unhappy about the way Parliament undermined his authority, and also violated the constitution when it allegedly diverted money that was meant for a different purpose (fighing COVID-19) to serve the members’ selfish ends, Museveni appears to have exonorated the Speaker and the Parliamentary Commission by stating that the behaviours of shuffling government’s priorities should not happen again.

He writes for example that: “For Parliament to unilaterally reshuffle the priorities of the Goverment, it means that there is no need to have the President and the Executive Branch of Government. The Parliament will have become both the executive and the Legislature. This is not correct. Indeed, the Constitutional Court in the case of Parliamentary Commission Vs Mwesigye Wilson Constitutional Appeal No. 08 of 2016, guided the country on that. This is something that should not happen again. Indeed, I have discussed with you this matter a number of times.”

Some analysts argue that the President does not have the right to claim the moral high ground in the scandal by portraying Parliament as evil. This is because, they argue, the President himself benefited from the same money that he had not yet signed off.

Others argue that the President cannot afford to isolate the MPs because he needs them to pass bills and keep his government in power. The MPs decision to decline a recent loan request worth UGX6 trillion, that had been presented by Planning State Minister David Bahati, is a reminder that the MPs are ready to use their power to win this war.

If the Auditor General’s report therefore, is to serve any purpose then, it would be for public relations or simply a threat to extract some more money from cowardly MPs. Perhaps in recognition of the leverage that Parliament wields, Speaker Kadaga has directed the MPs to leave the matter to her to solve.

Social media has been awash with comments over M7’s letter asking the Auditor General to Audit MPs use of UGX20m

Below is the President’s Full Letter to Speaker Kadaga

The Speaker of Parliament
I am writing to you in the matter of hte Shs.20million which Parliament diverted from the Government plan to another purpose.

First of all, this is unconstitutional. Both in logic and law, it cannot be correct that the Head of Government, the President, through the Ministers responsible, submit a plan for expenditure to Parliament and, then, Parliament reshuffles the priorities and creates its own against the plan of the president. Yes, Parliament may approve or disapprove. That is in order. In that case, the President will discuss with the MPs, hear one another’s logic and agree to a way forward.
However, for Parliament to unilaterally reshuffle the priorities of the Goverment, it means that there is no need to have the President and the Executive Branch of Government. The Parliament will have become both the executive and the Legislature. This is not correct. Indeed, the Constitutional Court in the case of Parliamentary Commission Vs Mwesigye Wilson Constitutional Appeal No. 08 of 2016, guided the country on that. This is something that should not happen again. Indeed, I have discussed with you this matter a number of times.

When it came to the matter of the Shs.20million for each MP, by the time you came to see me with the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister, we were told that the money had already been sent to the MPs accounts. How could that happen? Ins’t a supplementary expenditure part of the Finance Bill? Ins’t the President supposed to, first, assent or otherwise, to that Bill before it becomes law? Who, then, authorised the expenditure according to a Bill that had not become Law? Is that not illegal?

I had all these issues in my head. However when you came to see me, in my usual way of looking for peace(*Blessed are the peace-makers for they will be called children if God@ in the Book of Mathew Chapter 5, Verse 9), I limited my advice to you to only the issue of getting our MPs, the NRM MPs and other well-meaning MPs, out of a trap they had got themselves in. This was the morally reprehensible image of trying to benefit personally from a national crisis by using the powers they have to allocate themselves that money while there are many legitimate ad urgent needs.

I told you to, please get our MPs out of the cul de sac each MP taking money to the District Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) in the presence of hte District Task Force. In that case, the Problem would only have remained between the Executive and Parliament of reshuffling the priorities of the Executive without consultation.

However, the Public anger that the MPs were self-serving, selfish people, especially the MPs of the NRM, would have been obviated.

I now, however, hear and I have seen on some TV pictures, MPs distributing food to the public or MPs delivering items to the District Taskforce. The question is: “Are MPs the Purchasing Officers of the State of Uganda?” The Accounting Officers of the Country are well-known. The MPs are certainly not among them. What procurement rules did these individual MPs follow?

My decision, therefore is that by copy of this letter, I am requesting the Auditor General to audit this aspect, where the MPs became the
“Purchasing” Officers of the State and see whether their efforts were legal. I ask him to conclude it in four weeks so that we do not have to wait indefinately.
Did the MPs follow the health precautions of the Ministry of Health when they were distributing the food?

I have been been to Karamoja to open the marble factory, in Nakasongola to launch the fire-fighting vehicle of the Luwero industries and to Jinja to dea with the crisis of the water levels. In all these cases, groups of people were trying to stop me to tell me this or that. I refused to stop because it would violate the pandemic precautions of not gathering more than 5 people. It can endanger people. I do not want to be a cause of a single infection on account of my stopping to talk to groups. This is why the Task Force use non-political people – soldiers etc. How did the MPs handle this? I have told the Minister of Health to audit this and write to you with copies to the relevant people, including myself.

This is in order to see how to limit this damage. The MPs that handed the money to the CAO should be left out of this enquiry.

Signed Yoweri K. Museveni
President.

Copied to: H.E the Vice President
Rt. Hon. Prime Minister
Hon. Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development
Hon. Attorney General
Hon. Minister of Health
The Chief of Defence Forces
The Inspector General of Police
The Auditor General.

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