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MPs extortion: Museveni warned Namujju in 2023

Cissy Namujju

Cissy Namujju

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was aware a year ago that members of parliament were extorting money from government agencies and ministries.

Speaking to The Observer, MPs with direct knowledge on the subject said Museveni had previously warned MPs against this practice in meetings. One such meeting occurred late last year when Museveni met selected National Resistance Movement MPs to rally support for the Petroleum Supply Amendment Bill 2023, which would allow the government, through the Uganda National Oil Company, to buy fuel directly from Kenya to eliminate middlemen.

Two MPs who were briefed about that meeting, but asked not to be named, said Museveni entered the room where the meeting was taking place and, before saying anything, first scolded them against racketeering.

“Before he even greeted us, he said, ‘You people, you are extorting money from agencies; Cissy [referring to Lwengo Woman MP Namujju] are you hearing, Cissy are you hearing.’ At that time, he spoke like a person who had knowledge about what he was talking about,” one MP said.

This development comes just a week after the arrest and charging of three Members of Parliament for allegedly attempting to extort close to Shs 12 billion from the chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, Mariam Wangadya, to pass the Shs 58 billion Commission budget.

According to the charge sheet, Cissy Namujju, the Woman MP for Lwengo district, Paul Akamba, the MP for Busiki County, and Yusuf Mutembuli, the MP for Busiki County, at Hotel Africana in Kampala, asked Wangadya for at least 20 per cent of the Shs 58 billion commission’s budget to be passed by Parliament.

However, the MPs we spoke to for this story said that by last year, Museveni had already expressed his disapproval of the conduct of at least Namujju. This explains why Namujju was removed from the budget committee at the end of last year.

“Museveni is the one who told Hamson Obua [Government Chief Whip] to remove Namujju from the budget committee,” an MP said.

Two MPs who are also members of the budget committee stated that although most allegations of corruption and extortion have been directed towards it, the committee is just at the tail end because of the nature of its work.

“The Budget Committee receives reports from other committees of parliament that first directly deal with these government agencies. Therefore, if anybody wants to bribe an MP, they first bribe those whose committees directly handle their budgets because we mainly handle reports from these committees,” the MP explained.

He, however, admitted that despite this working arrangement, the budget committee is one of the most sought-after committees.

“Of course, it is a very attractive committee because it has a real impact on how the money is distributed. So many MPs would want to be part of it,” the MP said.

Other committees that MPs are eager to join because of their lucrative nature include the committee on physical infrastructure, the committee on finance, and the committee on natural resources, among others. These committees handle agencies and ministries with very large budgets or those performing functions that have a direct impact on communities.

“It is normal for MPs to ask for money from agencies or other things like seedlings, roads, hospitals, and schools. There are committees that are ‘wet’ and those that are ‘dry,’ where you can influence something from an agency for your constituency; here every MP would like to be on such a committee,” the MP said.

HOW THE RACKETEERING WORKS

MPs are able to extort money from agencies and ministries under the pretext of helping them reallocate funds to their unfunded priorities. Almost every budget the government presents to parliament contains areas that ministries identify as crucial but are left unfunded due to a lack of funds.

When these agencies appear before parliament to defend their budgets, they appeal to the MPs to reallocate money so these unfunded priorities can also be financed. It is at this point that MPs ask for their cut to reallocate money to these areas.

“If they want to improve this process, they should remove the item called unfunded priorities. Because it’s after they include that, that these agencies come to parliament to plead for additional funds. The moment you come to parliament begging for your budget to be increased, it means you believe parliament has the power to change the budget despite what the President claims,” the MP said.

Another MP confirmed that MPs like Namujju often broker deals with agencies to ensure they receive funding.

“If the president wants to fight corruption in parliament, all allocations should be done at the cabinet level, leaving no room for unfunded priorities. But if this practice continues, arresting one broker like Namujju today will only lead to another, more sophisticated broker emerging, whom you might not be able to arrest,” the MP added.

In the past, President Museveni has been very critical of parliament for what he termed “tampering with my budget.” During meetings with MPs, the president even suggested that they have no power under the law to change the budget. However, he has been informed by lawyers that since the budget goes to parliament as an Appropriation Bill,

MPs indeed have the power to amend it, just like any other bill. During this year’s budgeting process, sources have informed this newspaper that the President has held back-to-back meetings with the leadership of parliament, the chief justice, and officials from the ministry of Finance. In these meetings, amendments to the budget were agreed upon before being sent to parliament for approval.

The current push by the president to punish corrupt MPs and officials at the ministry of Finance, whom he called out during the State of the Nation Address, has created panic among Members of Parliament. The extent of the president’s commitment to this cause is uncertain, as previous vows have resulted in very little or no action at all.

Comments

+3 #1 kabayekka 2024-06-19 08:43
It is a majority NRM legislative house in the African country of Uganda that is digging its own holes and unfortunately falling in these holes constantly.

For the person on the streets of Kampala the story is true that the successful bank robbers get home to divide up their loot. They end up failing to equally divide this loot and start killing each other to Armageddon!
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+4 #2 WADADA rogers 2024-06-19 09:56
So all along Museveni knew about the deal, could it have been a set up? When greed blinds somebody, it is hard for them to see
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0 #3 Ochan Ochero 2024-06-19 10:42
Just love the way this system works, now they are in overdrive to throw the rich woman under the NRM bus.

The president has always known that his ' children' are ripping this country bare. This is now about show rather then accountabilitiy.
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+3 #4 sula 2024-06-19 11:09
1- It is unfortunate that for 38 years Ugandans have accepted the deception and foolery of Museveni.

There is no Parliament in the real sense of Parliament..It is a decoy by museveni meant to hoodwink both Ugandans and the International community that there is some semblance of a government in Uganda. Yet he is the Parliament..

2- Again the grand deception that there is a difference between Corruption and Museveni.

Corruption is corruption no matter who the corruptor is : museveni has paid people to change the term limit, to change age limit ,to keep quiet on any serious issue. so which Corruption can he fight.

3-All we are seeing is drama, grandstanding and foolerly.
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+3 #5 sadrachbaker 2024-06-19 11:46
Investigations into all these corruption scandals must go on and all those proven guilty by the courts of law must have all their fixed assets frozen including bank accounts both domestic and foreign.

They must resign effective immediately and those assets sold off, then those proceeds brought to the consolidated fund. The government must liaise with those foreign governments and the same should be done with those stolen funds.
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+3 #6 Ebmok 2024-06-19 11:54
I keep asking myself, "Are there no accountants & finance professionals managing these things involving finances?"

For example, what's their budget process and what justification and traceability does it provide? What reviews take place and by whom are they done and what's the role of auditors in this sense (both internal and external)?

What risk profile applies to all these processes and who monitors the recommendations? Do they have any authorizational control and in what matrix that mitigates against obvious risks?

What is at stake that makes people accountable even before they think of think of engaging in dubious business? What reward system is there to reward excellent performance and collective team effort?

What king of appointments are there that ensure no single person or group usurps authority and therefore abuse?

These such questions are actually straightforward things and easily trump the vice.
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0 #7 Akot 2024-06-19 14:08
Only Ugandans can stop the useless mps by not going for next useless parliamentary election!

Museveni will rule for life with or without fake presidential election, so Ugandans shouldn't be afraid to lose him!

Museveni doesn't even need tribal leders in posts any more & all he has to do is dissolve their useless inhuman posts they are payed for & for?
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0 #8 Akot 2024-06-19 14:15
Ugandans, time for complaints, blaming Rwandese Museveni is OVER!

Just NO to the tribalistic system & UNITY with just 1 National Leader are all you need, if you want Museveni & family out!

Ugandans, is there any reason for you to wait & go for next useless presidential àparliamentary, local elections that will only protect Mseveni's lifetime rule & ownership of the zone fromed by your tribal lands?
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0 #9 Lakwena 2024-06-21 07:44
In other words, the sweetness of corruption under our "Problem of Africa", Gen Tibuhaburwa, has become akin the proverbial Ndiwulira (caterpillar) ending up being cooked alive in sweetness of the corn (maize). .

Unless he is himself corrupt to the core, for 38 years and counting, including recycling the corrupt like: Gen Jim Muwhezi and Alice Kabooyo of this country in his administration; why should a head of state merely warn the obvious and self-evident wrongdoers (corrupt)?

But vis-a-vis his refusal to leave power (corruption), our "Problem of Africa" has himself become Ndiwulira the pest. It is a matter time and he will be cooked in the corn/maize (power).
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0 #10 Lakwena 2024-06-21 07:52
Quoting Ebmok:
I keep asking myself, "Are there no accountants & finance professionals managing these things involving finances?" ...

What risk profile applies to all these processes and who monitors the recommendations? Do they have any authorizational control and in what matrix that mitigates against obvious risks?

What is at stake that makes people accountable even before they think of think of engaging in dubious business? What reward system is there to reward excellent performance and collective team effort?

What king of appointments are there that ensure no single person or group usurps authority and therefore abuse?

These such questions are actually straightforward things and easily trump the vice.


But Ebmok, it is "the accountants & finance professionals" who cook the books, hence the invisible hands that aid, abet perpetuate, and have entrenched corrupt under "our Problem of Africa" Gen Tibuhaburwa.
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