The Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, has on Thursday afternoon declined to take it as an attack on the House the statements issued by President Yoweri Museveni as he defended the Information, Communication and Technology Minister who is under fire over alleged corruption.
The Minister, Dr Monica Musenero who is also the Presidential advisor on epidemics is being investigated by a select Committee of Parliament over allegations that she misappropriated Shs31b meant to facilitate Ugandans scientists to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.
After Ntungamo Municipality MP Yona Musinguzi tabled documents which allegedly contain evidence pinning the Minister, a select Committee was set up by Deputy Speaker Anita Among. The Committee is chaired by Xavier Kyooma and comprises legislators; Paul Omara, Aisha Kabanda, Solomon Silwanyi and Tony Awany.
Among the terms of conditions, the select committee which has two weeks to report to the House is supposed to establish the progress in the development of a locally manufactured Covid-19 vaccine; the amount of funds so far released for the process; and, how it has been utilized.
However, while opening the Science and Innovation Week at Kololo Airstrip on Wednesday warned Parliament off the investigations on Dr Musenero who he described as a “decorated officer”
“I saw some people attacking Musenero and I said do these people know she is a decorated person? When I saw people attacking her, I said, “I hope they are not right, I will go for them” the President stated.
He added that; “you have no right to attack a decorated officer”
Dr Musenero has been at the forefront of advising the President on matters of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic but she has been accused of diverting money to a personal company that does not have capacity to manufacture vaccines.
It is against the President’s comments that Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda suggested that Parliament was under attack because its function to investigate matters before it has been undermined.
“Parliament is under attack. The Chief Executive Officer (President) while officiating at the Science week said, ‘I will go for them”. This is frightening because in the 9th Parliament when we lost the Hon Nebenda (former Woman MP for Butaleja District) he again said, ‘will go for them’ and that is why former Commissioner of Parliament Dr Chris Baryomunsi was arrested in Fortportal” Ssemujju said.
Ssemujju asked the Speaker to seek an audience with the President to ask him not to make public statements against Parliament because the MPs are doing their work.
However, the Speaker insisted that the President commenting about Parliament from a public function does not amount to an attack because it has not stopped the institution from performing its duties.
“We have all said things in places where we are not supposed to. I do not see it as an attack. This Parliament, we are here and there is no attack. If we are attacked we respond” the Speaker ruled.
After receiving support from the President, Dr Musenero who is expected to appear before the select Committee anytime from now, has distanced herself from the alleged corruption saying she holds high moral standards.
“My ethic of work is far above what these people are trying to lower me to. I have been working for years in jobs that pay. I don’t need to steal government money. As a person, if I see money on the ground, I will go and report it to the police” Dr Musenero said.
The select committee has been given two weeks to carry out investigations and report to the House in two weeks’ time.
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