The House on Tuesday tasked the Inspectorate of
Government –IG to investigate further the utilization of funds appropriated to facilitate the COVID-19 vaccine
development by Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr. Monica Musenero.
Anita Among, the Speaker
of Parliament directed that the IG's investigation should take into consideration the Parliament report by the Select Committee on Science, Technology, and
Innovation and actions regarding the matter reported to the House within
This followed a debate on the committee report presented
to parliament by the committee chairperson, Xavier Kyooma. In the report, the
committee observed that poor
financial management resulted in at least 2.06 billion not being accounted for
under operational funds, queried
1.4 billion for PRESIDE staff and others.
Kyooma also reported
the lack of guidelines on reporting resulting in discrepancies and that the
failure to harmonize allowance rates paid to scientists also led to wastage.
The report by the
House committee stems from its investigation of allegations of irregularities
regarding the utilization of funds for Covid-19 vaccine development by the
Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE).
PRESIDE, a brainchild of President Yoweri Museveni is supervised by Dr. Monica Musenero, who was a Presidential
Advisor on Epidemics at the time it was unveiled.
The committee established
that President Museveni on 6th May 2020 directed that PRESIDE be established and
2 billion be released to the State House Comptroller to facilitate the
operations of the initiative. The committee also notes that 5.3 billion was provided
in the financial year 2019/2020 and 31.03 billion provided in 2020/2021 for
scientists under PRESIDE for procurement of equipment and project operational
An additional 25 billion was released for project
operations, a supplementary request of 50.4 billion for a manufacturing plant,
and 27 billion for additional operational funds for PRESIDE projects in the
financial year 2021/2022.
Kyooma observed that
despite the commitment by PRESIDE in the Memorandum of Understanding –MOU with
the Ministry of Science to account for the money advanced to scientists, the
initiative did not. The Committee Chairperson also said that at the
inception of PRESIDE, government failed to define its legality, analyze and
optimize the structures that were already in place, and build on these as a way
of driving the pathogen economy forward.
He recommended the disbanding of PRESIDE and further investigation by the Auditor
General and Inspector General of Government –IGG.
Reacting to the
committee findings, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the Kira
Municipality wondered why an entity- PRESIDE without a legal status was chosen
to handle public funds in the process of developing a Ugandan Covid-19 vaccine.
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Sarah Opendi, the Tororo Woman MP said that the report
findings regarding anomalies were unfortunate. She said that Musenero fails to
conduct herself well as per the Leadership Code Act.
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Loy Katali, the Jinja Woman MP also demanded that
the IGG investigates the matter further saying that Musenero should have
resigned immediately as supervisor of PRESIDE when she was appointed Minister.
“The misuse of funds, diversion of funds,
reallocation without approval is becoming a trend in this nation," said Katali. "Whenever
there is a project, people get excited because they want to eat that money.
They have talked about the legal status of the entity…no wonder, it was a
bonanza for some people.”
Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of Opposition-LOP said
that if the findings of the committee are watered down, they will have
empowered a culture of impunity and that everyone will be culpable.
“We desire to see the country progress on a clear
path where innovators and scientists guide our daily thinking and the path to
development," said Mpuuga. "Science must not only be motivated by availability of money but
also availability of skills and commitment to invest skills in a particular
LOP said that there is no way Minister Musenero can
be exonerated on failing to account for funds.
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Geoffrey Ekanya, the Tororo North MP said that Minister
Musenero, former Minister of Science, Elioda Tuwesigye and the former Permanent
Secretary of the Ministry David Ebong need to be held accountable for any funds
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Asuman Basalirwa, the Bugiri Municipality MP said
that the report is clear on misappropriation of funds. He said that this is a
matter that requires further information to ascertain the individuals who were
responsible for the money lost.
Basalirwa argued that the auditor general has
already had an opinion in regard to the utilization of the funds and that the
further investigations should now be carried out by the IGG.
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Dan Kimosho, the Kazo County MP said that the
parliament rules of procedure allow amendment of observations and recommendation
of a House report.
‘Isn’t it procedurally right that instead of
spending more money into investigating this matter, as parliament we make
precise recommendations to the effect that whoever we will find culpable
according to the observations, is held personally liable?” Kimosho asked.
Speaker Among said that it was good practice that
observations made in the report speak to recommendations. She however said that
a decision on the matter would be made after the debate is concluded.
Kimosho then moved a motion that the Minister of
Science, Musenero is held responsible for any loss of fund and that parliament
urges the President to have her step aside as further investigations are
Parliament adopted the amendment by Kimosho but
Among said that parliament cannot direct the President and that it only urges
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Nathan Byanyima, the Bukanga North MP said that
science research should not be used as a scapegoat to squander public funds. He
said that there must be accountability for all funds appropriated towards the Covid-19
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Maurice Kibalya, the Bugabula South MP said that the
Minister of Science, Dr. Monica Musenero has to account for the money provided
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In her defence, Minister Musenero said that PRESIDE did not receive money directly for Covid-19 research and that research grants
were released directly to the grantees and the processes managed by the predecessor Ministry of Science and Technology.
Lukia Nakadama, the third deputy Prime Minister
pledged to ensure that the committee report recommendations were going to be studied by the Executive and to involve the IGG.