The High court has directed all Members of Parliament who benefited from the Shs10 billion for Covid-19 activities to deposit it with the Parliamentary Commission, District or Covid19 National Task Forces.
Justice Michael Elubu issued the orders Wednesday afternoon while delivering his ruling on an application filed by the Ntungamo Municipality Member of Parliament, Gerald Karuhanga contesting the manner in which parliament allocated the said money.
Last week, Karuhanga secured an interim order blocking fellow MPs from touching Shs20 million that had been deposited on their personal bank account before Speaker Rebecca Kadaga rubbishing the order and allowed MPs to use the money.
President Yoweri Museveni yesterday condemned the manner in which MPs allocated themselves the Shs10 billion Covid-19 cash.
Addressing the nation on the progress of the Covid-19 fight on Tuesday, Museveni said it was bad planning and morally irreprehensible for the legislators to give themselves money in this current crisis.
“I told the speaker that you’ve got yourselves into a trap. I told her now that you’re already in a trap, take the money to the district task force,” said Museveni.
He also said that the MPs who used the money for their personal benefits will be dealt with by the Auditor General.
“The ones who used the money to buy items, who authorised you to purchase for the country? You’re not a purchasing officer.”
Ever since, the package allocation came to light a few days ago, Speaker Kadaga and MPs have attracted all sort of criticism from the general public which has since accused them of being greedy.
Last week, angry Museveni met Kadaga where the latter pleaded with the former to suggest other options of handling the issue other than returning the cash to the state coffers.
After a long discussion, both leaders agreed that the move had placed Parliament in bad light. Museveni then set a number of conditions on how the money should be spent and accounted for so that members of the public and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) do not complain.
Museveni, Kadaga and the Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda agreed that MPs be incorporated in their respective district taskforces while those representing special interest groups, such as women, youths and people with disabilities, be included in the National Task Force.
MPs were also ordered to spend the Shs20 million each has been given on interventions meant to support the national response in respective districts. They were also directed to ensure that there was an agreement with respective district taskforces on what the money should be used for.
For accountability purposes, lawmakers were ordered to submit reports and copies of receipts to their respective Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) and deliver originals to Parliament’s Accounting Officer.
After she was assured of the President’s backing, Speaker Kadaga blasted MPs Karuhanga and Jonathan Odur for attempting to use courts to undermine Parliament and upset the principle of separation of powers. She also disagreed with Attorney General William Byaruhanga who had advised that Parliament respects the court order and stays the release or expenditure of the money. Kadaga said the court order had been overtaken by events because it was issued after the money had been wired onto MPs’ bank accounts.
Meanwhile, some MPs like Kyadondo East’s Robert Kyagulanyi and Masaka Municipality’s Mathias Mpuuga have already returned the Shs20m back to the Parliamentary Commission.
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