National Unity Platform (NUP) party MPs have defied their leader Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine’s call to return the Shs40 million handshake.
After the 48-hour- deadline passed last evening without any single NUP legislator showing up with the money, the party leadership in Parliament decided to call an emergency caucus meeting today to decide the way forward.
Mr John Baptist Nambeshe, the Opposition whip in Parliament who was in charge of receiving the money from party MPs, narrated how he had camped at his office since Tuesday waiting for the MPs but none showed up until he left for other businesses last evening.
“Even those people from whom we were expecting the money from have not yet show up,” Mr Nambeshe said.
The cash bonanza saga started on Saturday last week with all MPs receiving Shs40m from the President’s office at Parliament. The money was, according to sources, a token of appreciation for passing a supplementary budget.
On Monday night, the leaders of NUP held a crisis meeting at the Kamwokya offices in which Bobi Wine and gave the MPs an ultimatum of 48 hours to return the controversial cash given to lawmakers for passing of a Shs77b supplementary classified budget.
The MPs also indicated that they cannot take back the money since they were not even sure whether the cash would end up in the right hands or not. Another legislator from Central Uganda said it was “foolhardy for NUP leaders to imagine that MPs would accept to take back the money yet others are going to enjoy it”.
Other legislators indicated that the money would go to critical projects in their constituencies and advised Mr Nambeshe and “the principal” to “stop the drama”.
Sources close to Kamwokya, however, told Daily Monitor yesterday that the defiance of MPs on the cash bonanza was going to be a big problem which would mark the beginning of what they called “a fundamental disagreement between Bobi Wine and the MPs.”
On May 19, Parliament approved a Shs618b supplementary budget. Details show that Shs77b was allocated to State House for classified expenditure while the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) got Shs152b through the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs.
A total of Shs64.4b was earmarked for bankrolling Operation Shujaa, the ongoing joint UPDF-Congolese army mission to counter Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group based in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), while Shs87.5b was set aside to facilitate security operations in Karamoja Sub-region.
Our investigations show that members of Parliament’s Budget Committee rejected the State House supplementary request when it was first presented, arguing that the intended allocation did not have a vote and its purpose, dubbed as “classified”, unexplained.
Yesterday, sources within NUP disclosed that the the cash details had divided the party along members of the former DP bloc and the MPs who belonged to the original People Power pressure formation with the latter group supporting the return of the money.
Mpuuga speaks out
Although Mr Nambeshe and other party officials indicated that some NUP MPs had admitted receiving the Shs40m handshake, his boss, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, told this newspaper last evening that if any NUP members come out to confess to have received what he termed as illegal money, the leadership will crack the whip.
“At the moment I have not received anyone. Should there emerge evidence that any members are complicit, the party disciplinary proceedings shall be preferred on the affected members,” Mr Mpuuga said.
Asked whether he was not aware of some of his members coming out to confess to receiving the money, Mr Mpuuga said: “I deal with Party matters officially not through media! My point is the party position is clear, to those who wish to confess and therefore proceed to declare the source and purpose of the said money and those who will fail to make clear of their status but found culpable.”
On Tuesday Daily Monitor interviewed some of the MPs who admitted to receiving the money among whom were Mr Charles Tebandeke (Baale), Mr Twaha Kagabo (Bukoto South), Mr Steven Sserubula (Lugazi Municipality), and Ms Janepher Egunyu Nantume (Buvuma Woman representative).
Additional Reporting by Daily Monitor