The Plenary sat with the Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa chairing. In his communication, he condemned the actions of the military officers who harassed a traffic policeman on duty. “We are going to bring this to the attention of the Commander in Chief. If this happens amongst armed forces, what would happen to us, civilians?”, he asked. On the same matter, Hon. Joseph Sewungu (Kalungu West, NUP) was concerned about the increasing impunity of the UPDF. He said that vehicles with army number plates were causing mayhem on the roads because they don’t respect and observe traffic rules. He said the military was acting with impunity and needs to be controlled. “The military police are supposed to discipline the army but what they are doing now is unacceptable”, he said.
In response, UPDF Representative, Gen. Peter Elwelu said the incident involving the military grabbing a traffic officer was regrettable. “I sincerely apologize to the Uganda Police Force and all Ugandans. It is unacceptable and unforgivable. The soldier has been arrested and is facing court”. In response, Hon. Sssewungu said, “I want to thank Gen. Elwelu but I want to send a question to you, you are the Deputy CDF but can you arrest Gen. Muhoozi who is masquerading around campaigning yet he is still a serving soldier?”.
Raising on another matter, Hon. David Sserukenya (Makindye -Ssabagabo, NUP) was concerned about the land grabbers who stormed the Busabala playground with tractors and pangas and fenced off the playground.
As a general matter, Members of Parliament including the Deputy Speaker was concerned about the state of roads in their constituencies. The Deputy Speaker said, “I can’t go home, the road from Kizinda to Mitooma my area is in a poor state. I have to do an extra 40KM when am going to Mitooma”. He instructed the clerk to ensure that the issue regarding the operationalization of the Road fund is put on the order paper for the next day’s business.
On another matter, Hon. Margaret Rwabushaija (Worker’s Representative, Indp) was concerned about the non-payment of salaries for teachers and other civil servants in the Cities of Lira and Arua. She said that these civil servants had not received their salaries for the previous 8 months. She also said that some teachers in these two cities had been deleted from the payroll and were not sure of what was going to happen next. She asked the Minister to come to the house and explain what the government intended to do for these civil servants. In a related matter, Hon. Brenda Nabukenya, (DWR Luweero, NUP) was concerned about the ongoing industrial action by science teachers. She said that this was affecting the ongoing reopening of schools for the second term. She asked the Minister of Public service to issue a statement on the ongoing industrial action.
On another matter, Workers Representative, Hon. Agnes Kunihira, NRM sought leave of the House to introduce a Private Member’s Bill entitled the Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2022. Kunihira contended that amending the current law would provide for the regulation of recruitment agencies and recognition and protection of domestic, migrant, and casual workers and also that the labour rights and protections under the Constitution of Uganda and international labour laws would be guaranteed.
Later, Hon. Xavier Kyooma (Ibanda County North, NRM) presented the report of the Select Committee on Science, Technology, and Innovation on covid-19 related research for 2019/20 to 2021/22. This report followed the issues raised by Hon. Musinguzi Yona (Ntungamo Municipality, NRM) on the manufacture of the Covid-19 vaccine.
On 10th November 2021, a Select Committee on Science, Technology, and Innovation was constituted to investigate allegations of irregularities reported on the receipt and utilization of funds for COVID-19 vaccine development by the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE) under the supervision of Hon. Dr. Musenero the Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation. The Committee observed that the failure to locally clone, map and sequence DNA would imply that there would be a continuous need to procure transgenic mice which are not only expensive but also not reliable since there was no local capacity to breed them. The transgenic mouse was reportedly valued at UGX 8 million per pair as opposed to the Swiss mice at UGX 20,000 presently used at the Makerere University animal lab house. The Committee also noted that the establishment of PRESIDE violated governance rules, as it had no legal status. The initiative had not been incorporated in accordance with the laws of Uganda. Therefore, it was not a legal entity. The Committee further noted that previous Presidential Initiatives such as the Presidential Initiative on Banana Development and Kiira Motors Corporation had since transitioned into incorporated companies of which Government holds shares.
The Committee further noted that the current Chairperson of PRESIDE was also the Minister responsible for Science, Technology, and Innovation and still held the portfolio of the Senior Presidential Advisor on Epidemics. The Committee noted that presented a serious conflict of interest since she was the supervising Minister of STI and related agencies, an implementer under PRESIDE, and also an advisor to the President about PRESIDE. Hon. Yona Musinguzi while commenting on the report of the select committee on the investigations of the manufacture of the Covid-19 vaccine recommended that Dr. Musenero be censured. Hon. Yona Musinguzi also asked Dr. Musenero to tell the Committee when she bought her three schools one in Bulindo, one in Mukono, and another one in Kapchorwa. He also recommended that the IGG should take over and investigate the operations of PRESIDE.
While responding to the report of the select committee on the manufacture of the Covid-19 vaccine, Dr. Musenero told the house that the areas of research which PRESIDE started are areas that the country had failed to break through. She said that the PRESIDE initiative had given the country a strong foundation in science and research by building capacity and thus this work needed to be supported with more resources. On the allegation of schools raised by Hon. Yona Musinguzi, the Minister told the house that she doesn’t own any school in the central region. She said that she owns two schools in Butebo and Budaka which were established in 2000 before she joined the government.
The Deputy Speaker deferred the debate on the Report of the Select Committee on Science, Technology, and Innovation on Covid-19 related research to Tuesday next week. He asked MPs to go and study the report deeply and prepare for the debate. As a matter of concern, Hon. Mapenduzi Ojara (Bardege-Layibi Division, Indp) asked the Deputy Speaker to ensure the safety of Hon. Yona Musinguzi is guaranteed as the house waits to debate the report from the select committee. On his part, Hon. Maurice Kibalya (Bugabula County, NRM) was concerned that deferring the debate to next week was aimed at protecting Minister Dr. Musenero. He said that from today calls would come in threatening MPs and thus the objectivity of MPs would be affected by the calls that they would receive.
Plenary was adjourned to Thursday, 12 May 2022 at 2:00 pm.