By Dr Francis Otto
I make reference to the picture showing Hon. Felix Okot Ogong, MP for Dokolo South Constituency delivering shs 25m, in cash, to the Dokolo District COVID-19 Task Force recently.
Whereas it is a great thing that Hon. Okot Ogong has done, what I think is right, I cannot see any good image depicted by Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga whilst she defended, in her statement, the allocation of Shs 10 billion to MPs to carry out ‘supervision and advocacy’ against the spread of coronavirus disease.
Initially, it appeared quite obvious that Rt. Hon. Kadaga and her institution of Parliament never wanted this known. As Ofono Opondo asked, if the MPs were sincere, how many government services are delivered to the public in the manner they want to deliver this one – via their personal accounts?
Anyway, due to public pressure, led by two pro-people MPs, this could no longer be covered. Perhaps this is why Rebecca Kadaga remains very bitter to Hon. Gerald Karuhanga and Hon. Jonathan Odur, who took up this matter to court. In fact credit should be given to these two MPs for defending the public from exploitative legislature.
To me, there is no moral justification for the Speaker’s outburst. She claims in her statement that MPs are ‘busy on advocacy’ and are following up on what is happening in hospitals around the country. What we know is that MPs are paid handsomely to do that and therefore no need for this money at this time. If this was a clean deal, there wouldn’t be this great anger she expressed to the two MPs, even promising to ‘discipline’ them.
The same attitude was expressed when the Attorney General, on invitation by the Speaker herself, gave a legal opinion different from what she expected. This has been the trend where she blasts Attorney Generals who give opinions she does not want to hear.
When Kadaga claims that MPs are ‘looking into’ constituents’ needs by providing food and water tanks among others and Kira Municipality MP Ssemujju Nganda adding that his home is thronged every day by locals asking for food, money for healthcare or an ambulance for transport to the hospitals, it defeats any sound person’s understanding that there exists a District COVID-19 Task Force in every district. If Kadaga and Ssemujju Nganda are right then why would we respect the role of a District COVID-19 Task Force?
While the general public sees this whole game of Kadaga, her Parliamentary Commission and MPs as an immoral game, President Museveni weighed in after enormous pressure from the public and brought the needed sanity in terms of guidance and leadership that was absent in the design of the immoral project. The President tasked the MPs to work with their respective District COVID-19 Task Forces to consolidate the response to corona virus spread.
Hon. Felix Okot Ogong followed President Museveni’s leadership and guidance. This is where Museveni is the winner in this otherwise immoral project. Can Kadaga now recognize that with this model, the money would have been appropriated directly to the District COVID-19 Task Forces whilst the MPs play their ‘supervision and advocacy’ role? Hopefully all the ‘Honorables’ do the same to avoid the issue of ‘receipts’ being presented for accountability.
This would be like how my friend Pollar Awich likens it to a child who goes to church with the mother, borrows money from the mother and gives it as offertory in Church. In the case of the child, though, I think something is being taught to him/her – offering, which is not what I think MPs like these would need.
We should have more MPs like Gerald Karuhanga, Jonathan Odur and others who have returned the money to try and bring sanity in the institution of Parliament. Thankfully, President Museveni chose to go by the public and sanitized the 10bn awfully allocated to MPs to ‘fight COVID-19’.
The writer is Dr. Francis Otto, who holds a PhD in Computer Science and a concerned citizen of Uganda, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org