Parliament is under attack from the judiciary, executive and the media but won’t go down without a fight, speaker Rebecca Kadaga has said.
Kadaga wondered why court, the president and media are fixated on the Shs 10 billion that MPs allocated themselves to fight coronavirus in the country, and yet it is part of an entire Shs 304bn supplementary budget. She said the MPs don’t have to adhere to the High court justice Michael Elubu’s order directing the MPs to refund the money to state coffers.
The order was issued following a petition by Ntungamo municipality MP Gerald Karuhanga and Erute South MP Jonathan Odur who were dissatisfied with the manner in which the money was allocated. Likewise, prior to the court decision, President Yoweri Museveni said the allocation had both moral and legal issues, saying the MPs had fallen into a trap.
Museveni said MPs are not purchasing officers for the government to be given money to purchase relief items for distribution in their constituencies. Museveni advised the MPs to take the money to their respective district COVID task forces that would then decide on what to do next.
However, Kadaga who seems to be personally invested in the controversial money, said critics forget that the job of appropriation is reserved for parliament. She told the MPs not to panic following the court order and can go ahead and spend the money as per her earlier guidelines.
“The guidelines I gave follow the National Audit Act and the rules of procedure. So how will they account to the judiciary?” Kadaga questioned.
She said MPs can’t be receiving orders from all over and everyone – court, the president or the media. She said next week, parliament is going to expose the executive’s clossal expenditure.
“We are dissatisfied by the court order and we are proceeding with another application to challenge the order. So we want you to acknowledge our work, the appropriation is our business. This is now new, a judge appropriating money from the court? Appropriation is for parliament…that’s what the Constitution says but a judge is sitting in court saying now he is appropriating. So this is an attack on parliament by the executive and the judiciary and you the media,” said Kadaga.
She said the media is not questioning the rest of Shs 304bn supplementary budget that the MPs passed. She said parliament equally appropriated Shs 15 billion to NAADs, Shs 59 billion to the Office of the Prime Minister which “they used to buy rotten food and expired milk that they are giving to people”, Shs 94 billion to ministry of Health, Shs 6 billion to the ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, Shs 165 billion for each district, Shs 55 million for each RDC and others for COVID-19 activities.
“This is the truth and it is on record. The MPs have been spending money over a long time, personally I think…almost Shs 200 million spent in these things already. We started spending even before this supplementary came. If MPs show you messages on their phones, nine out of 10 are asking for food. So for anybody to say that we should not be visible. Why don’t they want us to be visible? We are elected leaders. So they want to go and show they care more about these people than we whom they elected. This is wrong and we shall not accept it,” the speaker said.
Kadaga further stated that MPs handed over their 270 ambulances to the ministry of Health to help in the response against COVID-19 but the responsibility for the payment of drivers, fueling and others is still with the legislators.
She warned the executive against interfering with parliamentary work saying that each arm of government has its own responsibilities and interference shall not be accepted.
“We are concerned that we are being attacked by the executive and we are going to take appropriate action on that issue as well. We are three arms of government, we all have responsibilities under the Constitution and we are carrying out responsibilities. So there should be no interference in our work as long as we follow the Constitution,” she demanded.