KAMPALA – Justine Kasule Lumumba, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister in charge of General Duties on Wednesday tasked Members of Parliament to guard against corruption tendencies and ensure that the House is held in high regard.
Lumumba who was presenting a paper on the whipping system in Parliament during the induction of members of the 11th Parliament at Imperial Royale Hotel.
This comes at a time when most Ugandans are hopeless in the Institution as it has championed and institutionalized political corruption. On several occasions, MPs have received bribe from the Executive to push its agenda with ease, most recently being disbursement of Shs40 million to each MP for unknown reasons, at a time when the country is riling from the ever-increasing commodity prices.
The said money was dished out over the weekend where NRM MPs, the majority, received their share at parliament on Saturday and some on Sunday night while the opposition MPs picked their share from the speaker’s residence, an MP said.
This was also confirmed by the director of Uganda Media Centre who is also the government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo through his Twitter handle.
“I understand each collected Shs40 million last Thursday night and in case you experienced a jam at the parliament at night,” Opondo said on June 5, while retweeting a story by New Vision newspaper which said MPs had allocated themselves Shs193 billion for their allowances.
“But by that time, they had not yet paid the money…Probably it was leaked to gauge public opinion and when not much was said about it, they decided to give out the money,” one MP said in an interview with URN.
When asked, Bbaale County MP Charles Tebandeke said “I haven’t yet got that money but when it comes, I don’t know why I should refuse it because it is budgeted for.”
Lumumba said that some members have been reportedly asking for money before they sign committee reports. She said that this is casting Parliament in bad light.
“Corruption is eating up some Members of Parliament. Some of them are preoccupied with looking for accounting officers to give them something. You are doing committee work and instead of signing the report, you turn around and you want to be paid,” she said.
She asked the MPs to keep their bar high and that they should not cheapen themselves before accounting officers in the different departments and agencies.
Lumumba said that she recently was involved in following up on reports of committees to quicken the process and she was shocked to find out what happens there.
When it comes to committee work, Lumumba also asked the committee chairpersons to use the stick and carrot method to run their affairs. She said that members of committees who are not always attending meetings should not be considered for trips even though they lobby.
“The MPs that attend committees regularly are the ones that should be given trips and assignments by the chairperson,” she said.
She also asked Members of Parliament to speak in the House saying that is one of the ways their performances are assessed since Parliament is for speaking. She asked MPs to work for Ugandans despite their political party differences.