Bobi Wine outlines 10 reasons why 500m awarded to Mpuuga by the Parliamentary Commission was Dirty money

Bobi Wine outlines 10 reasons why 500m awarded to Mpuuga by the Parliamentary Commission was Dirty money

By Our Reporter

KAMPALA – In related to the on going leadership crisis within Uganda’s leading political party in parliament, there are new developments as the day go by. As we report, NUP principal Hon. Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi, on Saturday morning outlined 10 reasons why 500m awarded to Mpuuga by the Parliamentary Commission was Dirty money.

Read the full statement he posted via his X handle formerly tweeter handle and other social media platforms.

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On 6th May, 2022 there was a meeting of the Parliamentary Commission attended by Ms. Anitah Among, Hon. Mpuuga and the three NRM Commissioners of Parliament. This was two months after Hon. Zaake was illegally removed from that position.

In that meeting, these leaders awarded themselves a collective amount of 1.7 billion shillings. Hon. Mpuuga was allocated 500 million shillings, while the three others were each awarded 400 million shillings.

It was not until the minutes of the Parliamentary Commission were ‘leaked’ to the public almost two years later, that we all got to know about this.

Upon return to the country, I convened an urgent meeting of senior leaders of the Party who included all Deputy Presidents, the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General, the current Leader of the Opposition, the National Treasurer, Hon. Muwanga Kivumbi and Hon. Betty Nambooze.

(Also invited was Hon. Medard Sseggona, who unfortunately was not able to attend.) In the presence of these leaders, Hon. Mpuuga admitted that the leaked minutes were genuine.

He admitted that it was wrong and immoral and apologized for the same. He regretted his actions and categorically stated that in hindsight, he should never have involved himself in such.

He was strongly advised to step down from the Commission in public interest because that is what leaders do. He requested for some time to consult with and prepare his family and other stakeholders, which we agreed to, because it was only fair.

When the one day agreed upon passed and following several reminders, we decided to issue a public statement on the matter because it is indeed a public matter for which the people of Uganda expected answers.

It is their money we are talking about! Before that, I personally kept in touch with him and implored him to do the moral thing, in order to save his image and that of the Party.

Unfortunately, following our public statement, Hon. Mpuuga has now released a statement apparently moving away from his earlier position and apology.

His statement does not address the real issue of the 500 Million Shillings, and instead indirectly tries to justify this extreme act of immorality and corruption.

“I have noted that some people do not have the full context of this matter, hence the need for this clarification”

Here are 10 reasons why this money-heist was illegal, immoral and wrong- and totally unexpected from a person we delegated to represent our values in Parliament, and lead the charge against corruption and misuse of public resources.

1. As all former Leaders of the Opposition have confirmed, none of them ever received a ‘Service Award’. What was special about the service of Hon. Mpuuga to warrant a Service Award that was never given to his predecessors? Secondly, even if Hon. Mpuuga and the three NRM Parliamentary Commissioners had done anything exceptional, would it be up to them to sit and award themselves for a job well done? I mean, it defeats basic logic for anyone to say they are awarding themselves- moreover with hundreds of millions of tax payers’ money. Does that mean that every public servant should now sit in his office and allocate allocate some money to themselves for feeling good about themselves and the work they do?

2. In the widely shared minutes of the Parliamentary Commission, it was clearly indicated that the said money was ‘person to holder’- meaning that it would not extend to any of the former or subsequent Leaders of the Opposition. They would be the first and last to receive this money. In our meeting with Hon. Mpuuga, he stated that the reasoning here was that every incoming LOP should negotiate his or her own ‘Service Award’. Really? We asked, “What if the next LOP negotiates for 10 billion shillings of tax payers’ money as his or her Service Award? How would we explain this?”

3. Conflict of Interest. Except under special circumstances, a leader is not expected to take part in a discussion involving self enrichment on his or her part. Section 9(1) of the Leadership Code Act (2002) provides that “A leader shall not participate in the deliberations of a public body or boardor council or commission or committee, of which he or she is a member at anymeeting at which any matter in which he or she has a personal interest is to bediscussed.” This law provides that where this provision is violated, the leader must cease to be a member of that public body or Commission and make good the loss caused to the public.

This is intended to prevent abuse and to ensure that decisions are arrived at objectively and legally. If Hon. Mpuuga had excused himself from a discussion regarding these personal monetary benefits, it would perhaps mitigate the problem. But we are confronted with a situation where the LOP and three other NRM Commissioners sat and allocated themselves hundreds of millions of tax payers’ money without shame! They themselves determined how much they deserved! How can anyone justify this?

4. The minutes of that particular meeting state that the 500 Million Shillings would be paid to Hon. Mpuuga regardless of length of tenure- meaning that even if he was to serve for only 1 year, he would receive this exact amount. Those likening it to gratuity are therefore wrong, because gratuity is calculated on the basis of how long a person serves in a particular office. In any case, gratuity is paid to someone at the end of their term of office and not during their term. Gratuity must ideally also come in the letter of appointment as one of the entitlements of an office. In this case, the discussion of the ‘Service Award’ came mid-term.

Relatedly, would it be moral for the LOP and other Commissioners to earn their gratuities as MPs and also award themselves ‘Service Awards’ at the same time? And the tax payer is expected to shoulder both burdens?

5. Legality. There is no law which provides for a ‘Service Award’ to a Leader of the Opposition and other Parliamentary Commissioners. Although some regime apologists have tried to liken the LOP to other leaders such as the Speaker of Parliament, Deputy Speaker and Prime Minister, the Administration of Parliament Act specifically provides for their benefits upon retirement. Although we believe that some of these benefits are also excessive and immoral for a poor country like Uganda, at least there is a law under which those payments are made. On the other hand, the so-called “Service Award” was an extreme case of greed not rooted under any law. The citizens of Uganda would want to know where that money came from. We are speaking of a collective amount of 1.7 billion shillings! Under what vote was this money spent? Because Parliament, like every other Institution, must spend in accordance with the approved budget. In addition, the law provides that the LOP is at the same level as a Cabinet Minister and no Cabinet Minister is entitled to a Service Award during or after their term of office.

Very importantly, the Supreme Court of Uganda in 2019 (Parliamentary Commission versus Wilson Mwesigye) held that the Parliamentary Commission does not have the power to impose any charge on the consolidated fund in the absence of a Bill or motion generated by the Executive arm of government. The Court went as far as saying that it is illegal for MPs to increase their salaries and emoluments without such a Bill or motion. In this particular case, Anita Among, sat together with Hon. Mpuuga and three NRM Commissioners, and awarded themselves 1.7 billion shillings off the consolidated fund in which Uganda’s tax payers keep their money! The two representatives of the Executive, i.e. the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance were not in attendance. (Not to say that their attendance would take away the other illegalities and immorality). So it was clearly illegal and criminal.
6. The LOP like all MPs earns a salary and allowances. However, on top of that, the LOP also earns extra allowances and gets facilitated by Parliament to enable him or her fulfill the duties of that office. What, then, justifies an extra Service Award for an office which is duly facilitated with a budget for its operations, over and above what ordinary MPs earn?

7. The meeting which passed these illegal benefits sat on the 6th of May, 2022, shortly after Hon. Francis @ZaakeFrancis was illegally pushed out of the Commission on 10th March 2022. Although Hon. Zaake was previously a Member of the Parliamentary Commission who lost his seat illegally, he was never considered for the so-called Service Award! Tasked to explain this, Hon. Mpuuga said that they were waiting for the outcome of the court case Hon. Zaake filed. Yet in the first place, the award was supposed to be given regardless of length of tenure! It therefore raises questions why the Award went only to Hon. Mpuuga and the three NRM Commissioners and not to Hon. Zaake. It will be remembered that Hon. Zaake’s witch-hunt started the day he started questioning the conduct of the Parliamentary Commission, where he chaired the Audit Committee! He was immediately kicked out for trying to expose whatever rot was going on there.

8. We, the people of Uganda, have regularly called out the Museveni regime on its excessive expenditure. The NUP manifesto for 2021 clearly castigated the regime for nugatory expenditure. We pledged that once we take over government, we would substantially cut down the cost of public administration and invest more in public services especially healthcare and education. We pledged to run a lean and efficient government and cut down all forms of wasteful expenditure.

In 2017, the people of Uganda, including Hon. Mpuuga, collectively and unequivocally condemned Museveni’s handshake of 6 billion shillings to 42 government officials who participated in an arbitration in London. The regime then described it as a service award to those officials, and claimed the reason was because they saved the government more than 2.4 trillion shillings.

Even then, we all condemned that payment because government officials are paid for the work they do. The select Committee of Parliament which probed the matter concluded that the officials should refund the money because it was irregular. Parliament directed the officials to refund the money and called on the IGG to investigate the heist. As always, Gen. Museveni defied Parliament, defended the illegal payment and the debate ended there.

So, why was it right for us to attack regime officials for this irregular payment even when they tried to justify it, and not now when there is no single justification whatsoever?

9. We believed that as a Party that nominated Hon. Mpuuga to the position of Leader of the Opposition, we should have been consulted on a matter of this magnitude. Indeed, I regularly speak with Hon. Mpuuga on most major issues. But I also learnt about this matter on social media and initially dismissed it as fake propaganda. I couldn’t believe that my Deputy President would get involved in a matter of this gravity and not say anything about it- not least, to me. When asked why he didn’t discuss this with the Party (or at least the President), he said it was a matter of personal finance! Really?

10. We all know that a matter involving huge sums of money and is not legislated but a matter of negotiation normally involves GIVE AND TAKE. The people of Uganda would love to know what the Hon. Mpuuga gave in exchange for this big favor!

For these reasons, we believe that this was an extreme act of corruption which Hon. Mpuuga admitted initially and apologized for! It is on record. It was both illegal and immoral, no matter how many heavy words are used to justify it.The moral thing for him to do would be to apologize to the nation and step down from the Parliamentary Commission. That remains his choice.

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