Some opposition Members of Parliament have demanded for the overhaul of accountability committee chairpersons for accepting what they called bribes to carry out their constitutional duties.
MPs Betty Nambooze, Ssemujju Nganda, Jack Wamai, William Nzoghu, Betty Aol, and Roland Mugume among others argue that the current chairpersons of the four accountability committees lack moral authority to execute their duties.
This comes after the members dishonored an agreement by the entire opposition to return the five million shillings given to each MP as facilitation to consult constituents on the Marriage and Divorce Bill.
The legislators were on Thursday presenting a list of 20 opposition MPs that have collected money amounting to 100 million shillings to be returned to the treasury. The MPs told journalists at parliament that while it was agreed in a meeting that the money be returned, about 40 of their colleagues have since declined to return the money.
According to Nambooze, the Mukono Municipality MP, their refusal to do as agreed is intolerable, considering the fact that they are among those who have always complained about government’s corrupt tendencies.
She now wants the Leader of Opposition to reshuffle the chairpersons of the committees who have refused to return that money which the opposition has understood to be bribe. She said Forum for Democratic Change, the biggest opposition party, should lead by example.
Ssemujju, the Kyadondo East MP, said the shillings 1.9 billion distributed amongst the 386 legislators was irregularly advanced to them since each MP gets salary, mileage and other allowances to consult the people they represent in parliament.
Mugume called for accountability committee chairpersons’ resignation. He also said that even members of the shadow cabinet that have not returned the money should resign.
According to the MPs, since each MP is given money for executing Parliamentary work, the consultation money was some form of bribe to enable the passing of the 128 billion shilling supplementary budget for State House.
Nambooze said she is consulting with her lawyers to find grounds on which to sue the Parliamentary Commission over the distribution of the said money since it came after even the bill had been withdrawn.
In 2005, legislators of the 7th parliament were given five million shillings to “consult” their constituents on the proposed constitutional amendments. Political observers however interpreted this to be a bribe to the MPs to accept removal of presidential term limits from the constitution.
Prior to the 2011 elections each member of the 8th parliament was given 20 million shillings to monitor NAADS activities. Some MPs rejected the money and returned it to the Parliamentary Commission.
The four accountability committees include Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by Terego MP Kassiano Wadri; Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) Committee chaired by Kumi MP Patrick Amuriat Oboi; Government Assurances Committee headed by Aruu MP Odonga Otto and the Local Government Accounts Committee led by Rukiga MP Jack Sabiiti. All the committee chairpersons are members of FDC party.
Some members of the shadow cabinet that have not returned the money are Franc Akello (Education), Geoffrey Ekanya (Finance), Florence Ibi Ekwau (Gender), Francis Epetait (Agriculture)and Sebuliba Mutumba (DP chief whip) among others.
But Wadri argues that much as the marriage bill was withdrawn, the money he received was a refund of what he had spent during the consultations. Wadri, who was furious with his colleagues’ demand for him to be sacked, said their call was rubbish which ought not to be confused with issues.