By Henry Mulindwa
A group of Members of Parliament have accused their colleagues of taking bribes from President Museveni to accept passing the budget without the Health funds.
Addressing a press conference at Parliament yesterday, the MPs who included Barnabas Tinkasimire, Theodore Ssekikubo, Cerina Nebanda and Wilfred Niwagaba, said Museveni had been involved in a series of secret meetings with selected MPs whom he bribed to pass the budget.
Although the MPs refused to name the exact MPs who met the president, they said the numbers totaled to 160 legislators who pocketed this bribe. The bribe according to sources was as low as Shs200, 000 to each MP.
The meetings, according to the MPs, were conducted in groups of 40 butches and they started on Friday until Monday when the number swell to 160.
“Those who went are now talking in different tongues. The masses should now know that State House which they funded fully is being used to overthrow their wishes. We want their respective constituencies to know that these people are traitors. They have been bribed and told to support the passing of the budget the way it is and government will come up with a supplementary within two weeks,” Tinkasimire said.
“It is yet another sad moment in the history of this country and Parliament. Members who went to meet him [Museveni] secretly are now crying. They are saying ‘what should we have done? The man was so hard on us’,” Ssekikubo added.
Nebanda nearly broke down upon learning that among this bribery group, there were female MPs some of whom are already carrying bulging tummies. They are expecting!
“I am disappointed that there were even women MPs some of whom are pregnant. How can someone who is pregnant be compromised? How could they accept bribes? We urge the voters of the 160 MPs to take keen interest in them and what they are saying” she stated.
Niwagaba said that the group was due to move a motion on the floor of parliament demanding the speaker to suspend the house rules of voice voting and instead use show of hands.
“The voice voting has been abused on several times. Even none members (ex-oficios) vote. They shout a lot” he stated.
The house and executive have been having running battles for the past three weeks over budget cuts. The MPs want shs260bn deducted from other sectors and enhance the health budget. However, the budget committee was only able to identify Shs39.2bn as wasteful expenditures from various ministries including Defence which they want to go to health.
By last week, government had agreed that it would bring corrigenda (39.2bn) attach it to the main budget and be passed together. However, those who went to state house were told that MPs should pass the budget in its current form and government will bring a supplementary budget in two weeks’ time, a matter some members opposed. By press time, the NRM caucus was meeting over the same issue while the main house was also due to sit to take a final decision on the budget.
President Museveni has met the NRM caucus twice arguing that their continued agitation to slash the Defence budget would jeopardise national security.
He said there are several activities that are going to be undertaken in this year’s budget and therefore should back off the shs15bn they want cut from defense.