President Yoweri Museveni is uncomfortable with the way MPs decided to apportion to themselves part of the supplementary budget meant for the covid19 fight.
Museveni in an April 28 letter to the Speaker of Parliament expressed that MPs were trying to challenge his power.
“I am writing to you in the matter of the Shs20 million which parliament diverted from the government plan to another purpose,” the president writes.
“First of all, this is unconstitutional… the president, through the ministers responsible, submits plan for expenditure to parliament and, then, parliament reshuffles the priorities and creates its own against the plan of the president.”
While it’s okay for parliament to approve or disapprove his decisions, Museveni says, this should be after a discussion so there is room for logical engagement.
“… for parliament to unilaterally reshuffle the priorities of the government, it means that there is no need to have the president and the executive branch of government,” reads the letter.
“The parliament will have become both the executive and the legislature.”
Museveni cautions Kadaga not to let the same “happen again”.
“Indeed I have discussed with you this matter a number of times,” he writes.
The decision to allocate themselves funds sparked a storm, with the public questioning their priorities considering the financial crisis the country had plunged into.
Museveni a few days later dubbed the move morally reprehensible.
However, some observers have argued that the president was trying to acquire political capital, considering the State House had also received billions of shillings in supplementary funding.
On April 29, the civil division of High Court directed MPs to either return the funds to the Parliamentary Commission or transfer it to the accounts of covid19 task forces.
Despite the directive by Michael Elubu, the high court judge, Kadaga maintained her stance, rallying lawmakers to follow her instructions and spend the money, citing the constitution.
Though Kadaga later consulted Museveni on the allocation of the funds, the president says the meeting happened after the money had been wired.
“… by the time you came to see me with the… prime minister, we were told that the money had already been sent to the MPs’ accounts,” says Museveni.
“How could that happen? Isn’t a supplementary expenditure part of the Finance Bill? Isn;t the president supposed to, first, assent or otherwise, to that bill before it becomes law? Who, then, authorised the expenditure according to a Bill that had not become law? Is that not illegal?”
Museveni says he told the speaker to get NRM MPs out of the trap they had hurled themselves into because they were creating an image of trying to benefit personally from a national crisis.
“I told you to, please, get our MPs out of that cul de sac by each MP taking the money to the District Chief Administrative Officer in the presence of the District Task Force,” he writes.
“In that case, the problem would only have remained between the executive and parliament of reshuffling the priorities of the executive without consultation.”
Museveni, who expresses concern about MPs distributing food, asks: “Are MPs the purchasing officer of the State of Uganda?”
In the letter, which was copied to the IGP, Vice president, finance minister, prime minister, chief of defence force, attorney general, the minister of health — the president requestis the auditor general to audit “this aspect, where the MPs became the purchasing officer of the state and see whether their efforts were legal.”
He says audit should be concluded in four weeks so that “we do not have to wait indefinitely.”