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Unveiling Uganda’s Parliamentary Bribery Scandal: Challenges and Calls for Reform

What you need to know more about

  • Addressing journalists at the party headquarters in Makerere-Kavule, Kampala, on December 12, 2023, Robert Kyagulanyi shed light on the allocation of funds in the recently passed Shs 3.
  • An incident at the outset of the current parliamentary term in Uganda laid bare the disturbing practice of offering cash incentives to lawmakers.

Recent revelations have brought into sharp focus a troubling pattern of widespread bribery within the parliamentary framework, eroding both its credibility and efficacy.

Accusations indicate a systemic issue where heads of parliamentary committees, as well as administrators of government enterprises, parastatals, and departments, engage in corrupt activities to evade public scrutiny.

Furthermore, it’s alleged that financial incentives are being channeled from the executive branch to sway MPs towards supporting specific political agendas. This intricate network of bribery not only compromises the legislative process but also raises serious questions about the transparency and ethical standards governing these institutions.

An incident at the outset of the current parliamentary term in Uganda laid bare the disturbing practice of offering cash incentives to lawmakers. Each MP reportedly received Shs 40 million within the initial three months of their term under the guise of voting to approve a supplementary budget.

According to media reports, MPs from various political affiliations purportedly received their payments separately. The case of Bukoto South MP Dr. Twaha Kagabo, who publicly expressed his intent to return the funds, underscores the complexities surrounding these transactions. Dr. Kagabo faced significant backlash after his declaration, highlighting the challenges of resisting such inducements.

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Despite efforts to return the money through the office of the former leader of the opposition, Mathias Mpuuga, Dr. Kagabo was instructed to return the funds to their original source, a futile endeavor.

ETHICAL QUANDARIES

Following a directive from the National Unity Platform for the refund of these funds, Dr. Kagabo is reportedly contemplating switching his allegiance to the National Resistance Movement (NRM), reflecting the political pressures and moral dilemmas inherent in such transactions.

This case underscores the profound influence that financial incentives can wield over parliamentary integrity and the personal and political choices of legislators. Addressing journalists at the party headquarters in Makerere-Kavule, Kampala, on December 12, 2023, Robert Kyagulanyi shed light on the allocation of funds in the recently passed Shs 3.5 trillion supplementary budget.

He revealed that a substantial portion of the budget was specifically earmarked to ‘appreciate’ parliamentarians for approving it, with each MP allegedly receiving Shs 100 million.

Mathias Mpuuga Nsamba, then-leader of the opposition in parliament, corroborated this, confirming the allocation of funds for MPs, although they had not yet been disbursed.

Two weeks ago, newspapers reported allegations of MPs receiving bribes ranging from Shs 500,000 to Shs 2 million to advocate for the retention of certain agencies proposed for return to their parent ministries.

These allegations, denied by the speaker, Anita Among, align with concerns expressed by the minister of Public Service, Muruli Mukasa, regarding the influence of lobbying efforts on parliamentary decisions.

However, Speaker Among vehemently refuted Mukasa’s claims, asserting that parliamentary actions are driven by constituents’ interests rather than bribery.

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The director of communication at parliament, Chris Obore, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing MPs’ commitment to their duties and urging legal action against any evidence of bribery.

Acknowledging reports of MPs soliciting bribes, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni emphasized broader concerns about ethical conduct, accountability, and transparency within the legislative body, calling for urgent reforms to restore public trust.

An MP, speaking anonymously, shed light on the financial transactions occurring at the committee level, revealing how funds are collected and distributed to members to influence proceedings.

This pervasive trend highlights the urgent need for reforms to combat corruption and uphold democratic values within Uganda’s parliamentary system.

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