They reminisced the December 22, 2017 dinner at State House Entebbe, two days after they had controversially amended the Constitution to delete Article 102(b) which handed President Yoweri Museveni a new lease of political life.
The Article was the only legal impediment for the extension of Museveni’s more than three-decade hold onto state power since it capped the age for presidential contenders at 75.
The now 76-year-old Museveni would thus be ineligible to seek re-election in 2021.
All the 317 MPs who supported the amendment attended the dinner at which Museveni christened them “NRM Heroes” which gave them a false sense of importance. They instantly created a WhatsApp group under the name; 317 Heroes with Museveni’s image as the group’s profile photo.
Following the Tuesday night televised speech in which Museveni criticized the MPs for allocating themselves Shs 20 million as facilitation for their individual efforts against Covid-19, the group has, out of anger been renamed “Purchasing Officers” and replaced Museveni’s image with that of Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of Parliament.
It is understood that they did this to protest what they perceived as Museveni’s harsh criticism of Parliament that he went as far as accusing the MPs of turning themselves into purchasing officers.
It got worse when High court judge Michael Elubu, on Wednesday issued the orders that require all MPs that benefited from the Shs 10 billion allocation to Parliament to deposit what they got back to the Parliamentary Commission, district or national Covid-19 task force.
The court decision came hours after Museveni’s speech and surprisingly, the orders that the court issued, rhymed with the directives Museveni issued to the MPs. This led to suspicion that Museveni biased the court process.
The court case was filed by Opposition MPs, Gerald Karuhanga (Ntungamo Municipality) and Jonathan Odur (Erute South).
The source of pain for the MPs is how Museveni vilified them over Shs 20 million which they received in almost the same manner in which they were each given Shs 29 million to consult on the age limit removal bill.
“It appears that he is no longer interested in us, he wants new ones, he has become very unreliable,” an MP said.
To push through the controversial age limit amendment, the MPs attempted to amend Article 77 (3) and Article 181 (4) to extend the term of Parliament and Local Governments to seven years.
The two-year extension was however shot down by both the Constitutional and Supreme Courts.
Here are some of the MPs’ exchanges picked from the formerly “317 Historicals” now renamed “Purchasing Officers” WhatsApp group. We have however decided to conceal their identities.
“With all due respect, the President as the head of the Executive should consider desisting from open attacks [against] other arms of government; judiciary and legislature to avoid plundering the country into anarchy. I don’t think all is clean with the executive arm of government that he heads. There seems to be a cold war boiling within top leaders of the various arms of government which may undermine democracy and separation of power as well as constitutionalism. The constitution stipulates the roles and powers of each arm of government and as patriotic Ugandans, it’s our noble and humane duty to respect, preserve, and defend the constitution. My advice to Ugandans is that they should just mind their livelihood activities and leave politics to the political class because alot seems to be happening behind curtains that we the lower people cannot see, otherwise they will get stress for nothing.”
“Advanced scrutiny analysis of HE’s planned shows he had nothing specific to update the country on Covid19 as before. Rather, it was an event set aside to ostracize Parliament as a bad institution and lot before the other arms of government and wanaichi/ voters generally. Of course Mzee you all know that HE feels we do not deserve to get the emoluments we get and has become opposed to the legality of parliament’s appropriation constitutional mandate. The true meaning of these to me is unprincipled competition to spend the country’s resources to which the executive feels it/ they are the exclusive authority as of, how, and when they like. Covid19 presented this golden opportunity but Parliament also asserted itself which offends the other. No wonder some people wanted parliament to shut down during the lockdown. Aso????????♂️”
“World over all presidents are asking money to save the lives of th people in their respective countries, our president is asking money to buy weapons and He keep on furnish MPs who are trying to save the lives of many poor people in their area of jurisdictions. I’m totally confused and annoyed my brother Nacho of Busia I’m not happy at all.”
“But MPs are not part of the case. And the Parliamentary Commission already dispatched the money to MPs accounts so it is also too not in control. You cannot make an agreement on behalf of a member who is not party to the case. It was never part of Karuhanga’s prayers.”
“I was surprised when two callers this morning called Etop radio n said “it seems the President want us to hate our MPs yet the District Taskforce is busy eating all what is donated,when we call them to transport the sick they don’t receive our calls but our MPs support us with Ambulances, burials n fees for our children”. One added, “when will the President send to us the Matooke n all the donations we see and hear being donated to the National Taskforce? Our MPs help us let them be allowed to use the money than RDCs.” Indeed as an MP I can use money better than RDC who is not a born of my District. Who feels pain for the voters? The appointed person or the elected? hmmmmm!”
The 165m to each district is only spent on software activities and nothing on medical equipment or even personal protective equipment. MPs would have made an impact with the 20m by supporting Health Centres in constituencies! But now all those good plans have been shot down!”
“I am tempted to comment that we shouldn’t return the money as early as now. In any case some of us have already spent the money to buy items for the people. There is always a second thought. Am sure H.E was making a public accountability appease the public and that’s what public wanted to hear.I don’t think if H.E can make us vomit what we have already eaten. There should be plan “B” to cover the bygones .I feel it’s too early to return the money. In any case if any one insists that money should be returned then I will be the last person to return money.”
“Moses truth be told there is a lot that goes on that we don’t even get to know. Cabinet even make decisions and plan vendetta without either our or Parliament knowledge.
Did u even wonder why the management of donations, distribution of food, press conferences were all apportioned to Ministers? If cabinet had not set a trap all the moneys that were apportioned including the 480 billion Classifieds budget wd not pass. Why was Hon. Amelia so interested in the money even when it was evident she didn’t have a convincing response?
???????????????? Am shocked that even those who act as humble as Mother Theresa are involved in government Scams, even Amelia? We citizens actually look like we are fighting in darkness, it hard to tell whether we are punching our enemies or allies????????????????”
“Good morning members. I know we are disappointed by being knocked down by our own but don’t lose hope. The fight here is about the Mandate of Parliament. Once you heed you would have handed over Parliament. Since when has the Executive issued guidelines for the operations of Parliament? Since when have guidelines been [issued] after expenditure? That’s also strange. Since when has a donation been a command? That is also strange. Since when has Government kept its money on your account? That is also strange.
1. The Rt Hon Speaker/Parliamentary Commission will issue guideline that absorb and integrate the reality and purpose. Already the purpose was intervention in our districts including Mobile Money and it’s on [the] Hansard
2. The Guidelines shall include qualifying the needs assessment by the MP DTF. Because an MP is a leader and Leadership of DTF is mainly by non-leaders. MP is under Parliament
3. Guidelines should clearly indicate Accountability to the Clerk of Parliament
4. Certificate of that accountability should be issued by July so that issue is retired.
“Alex Alex at the end you will be the last one to refund take my word even now some are already refunding after speakers next guidance I will fall suit. Nothing will convince me from that. I will go ahead and give what I have purchased as a member on the DTF I don’t need the DTF I am a member to carry out my responsibility. More legal lacuna here.”
“I will return the money make a radio explanation which may not go well with the DTF in case the money is wired to them.”
“Shocked but not surprised. This kinyankore saying that …..akati kukakuteera omurisho Kati hweza . If you are walking and a small branch of a tree enters your eyes, it is reminding you to open your eyes and see properly.”
“My sister partly I do agree with you though I am still if the opinion that you have done more sacrifice to you pple than the hustle and bad omens of this 20M.”
“Was it appropriated to be taken to districts? Who tells you that taking money to districts means accountability? Are you a transporter of money from centre to the district. Ask yourself those questions first. But since AG report comes to you, you will handle the mess at that point.”
“You’re right Hon******.There’s no law that makes an MP a conduit for the transfer of money to the District, neither can one become a forced donor. Who is going to follow up money from the MP to the CAO? Many voters are not happy with the attack coz they need help and it’s only money from MPs that they will gain from but not all the money sent to the CAO or RDC.”
“I need someone to convince me why I should not borrow for this money, return it to the commission, set my heart free, explain to the voters and move on assisting them. By the way this is the just time Gov’t came in to supplement on MPs cores in the Constituency.”
“That’s y some of us called it Bribe it was put in the budget to blindfold them pass it!
So after being USED They are dumping them as usual. Just like previously they removed age limit after being told [to shift] the term limits to 7yrs after passing his, myeeeee
“I’m glad mamma that you are concerned of Mze’ denial of us. His suggestion that all the money be given to the district task force is contrary to the guidance of the Speaker that actually we can produce accountability of mobile monies we have been giving to rescue our voters stranded in Kampala. His comments are being used by the opposition who now undressing us to the voters. Mze needs to retract really.”
“I think the issue is more complicated than just passing over the money to the district taskforce. We have been nailed properly.
Yes it may settle the “moral issue” as put by H.E.. However, still, that is spending the money which according to the learned Attorney General would be “contempt of court”. The order was not to touch the money even if it is on our accounts.
Hopefully the court action is a joint venture, where paying it to the district Task Force would satisfy the invisible hand. If it is not then there is a danger that court decision may be a directive for us to refund the money. You cannot argue that you refunded it by paying it to the district. It may be recovered from our salaries.
If we are to play by the rules, however unfair and hurting it may be to us, we have to wait for the disposal of the court case.
“Senga you’re behaving like Yuda Iscariot after betraying Jesus he later threw away the cash and committed suicide . I will be forced to return the money but not making a mistake of returning the money voluntarily no way. And kindly Senga doesn’t risk returning the money, always storms come haphazardly but they always calm down.”
“Way forward, let the commission hold an urgent meeting after court ruling, study it closely with the Presidents directives Vs the Rt Hon Speaker’s guidance and guidelines issued to us. Let new guidelines be issued for us so that whatever action each of us taketh its backed by a legality close to our action defense but as of now the Executive [and] the Judiciary Vs the institution of Parliament let’s trade carefully we shall I merge winners despite the embarrassment.”
“This is interesting. The remaining cases of COVID 19 in Uganda are Kenyan and Tz truck drivers. They want me to pick my 20m and donate it towards the rescue of those drivers.
“True and he kind of said it. That this was not planned. MPs, we were not on district taskforce. We had no stickers. So we were not needed. How do u join taskforce midway. For me I had already ordered posho and given out some. If Rdc accepts I will give out the rest. Meanwhile Parliamentary Commission has not forced me to refund. I will wait and see. After all we sometimes give out more than 20m. So let’s cool down wait for further guidance from our PC. Returning the money now is further humiliating our Rt Hon Mama and institution of Parliament.”
“Members our president has been inconsiderate .he is kind of does not know the pressure from voters? Even suggesting to cut our salaries by half?
I have received 23 calls in 30min asking for bailout.”
“Good morning colleagues and Uganda. Have noted all the anger exhibited after the presidential address. But note that somebody wanted to be the only political actor during this Covid-19 and the forceful entry of another arm annoyed him. This is a calculated move to continue making members poor and beggars.”
“Imagine my innocent wife, telling me this morning that M7 is no longer in love with us, that he’s now tired of us..she said, ‘honey had you spent all the money”? I just shook my head…”
“When I saw Amelia, a long time PPS soliciting NBS presenter to ask her about the money, I didn’t know she wanted to appease the boss. When I saw Col Mwesigye an MP of Rwakitura rejecting the money, and Hon Jacklet, a statehouse girl rejecting the money too, I smelt a big rat.”
“Good morning Rt Hon Mama A.R.Kadaga and Hon members well passed through the tormenting night, on my side it was a heavy night. But I want to assure hon members that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is on our side to defeat and scatter all our enemies. I command you to stand still Exodus 14:13 , Vs 14 the Lord will fight for you, Vs 15 why are u crying move forward Vs 16 the waters will give way for you, I say don’t be afraid am with you says the Lord. We love u Rt Hon Kadaga for your love and zeal to your MPs and the institution of parliament. We will remember and remember you in history. God bless you dearly.”
“We bought hand washing containers, detergents, boxes of soap, sanitizers, posho, rice, ambulances…we have paid fees, Medical bills, boreholes, constructed health centers, schools, paved roads etc using our own salary…cancer machines, ghetto kids house, bus she Crane’s, albinos, spent the 29m togyikwatako for consultations on drinks for people to allow us to amend, and now…we are not purchasing officers… auditor general has to come in, where was the auditor general on the 29m?”
“Let’s be on our own. It is always common to find MPs being bashed in a period towards elections. This is because you are now a liability and not required in the next parliament. We are now orphans. We need to meet urgently as a group to discuss how we can overcome this damage. The only accountability people will understand is when you take the money to them through fighting hunger etc. Returning money at this stage will be counterproductive. Let’s meet and chat a way forward friends as we begin to launch our campaigns.”
“Good morning Members am not certain if this platform is still necessary, I think it achieved the purpose of creation mbu Historicals, now Purchasing Officers, let’s swallow our pride an accept we were duped or used for that matter, we knew it, we accepted it, now we don’t have to grumble, maybe it’s high time we [disband] the group instead of wasting time here crying over spilt milk, let’s get back to our constituencies and bond with our voters, show course for the 20m even more, those fellas will never [leave] you come rain, come shine. [I have] consistently said food distribution was only occasioned in the metropolitan city of Kampala yet the lockdown was countrywide, poverty indices are even worse in the North Eastern and Busoga sub-regions and more deserving, any proper analysis would have directed so. So if MPs have purchased food and non-food items for their constituents so be it after all since when did you stop being purchasing officers? You bought Ambulances, paid fees, medical bills, wedding and marriage bills, burials etcetera etcetera, so this is no news honestly just chill and bond with your voters, don’t show Mzee you are panicking and dependent, be strong and still ok!! ”
“Mbulambuli,I have always stood with my people using my salary. This 20m is a curse. Remember what happened to the Israelites when they hid food against the instructions God.”
“Hon. [*******], make us know the MPs, the voters, and the president who has more powers? The issues of 20m did u people ask 4 it? And if it was deposited in yr accounts without yr notice were u given the guidelines on how to use that money? Why should u take that money to [the] taskforce don’t u have yr constituency? Stay calm the President is chasing the wind. Thanks for everything.”
“My daughter [********] how many times should I tell you that my sons and daughters are in lusilika praying for our Rt Hon Speaker to be strong and stew the (ship) Parliament ahead now that our only Yellow Bus has off loaded us? In every situation there is a time for storm and the way to overcome it.”
“Milly just thank your voters for whatever you gave them in good faith, request them to keep on supporting your kind humanitarian heart as they play for you to find ways of refunding the 20M. I know it’s too painful but my heart tells me it’s the only way to redeem our lost reputation especially among our voters.”
It is a very good idea. However; right now we have the position of the parliamentary commission which posits that you can use the money on Covid-19 initiatives but provide accountability to the Clerk with a copy to CAO.
We then have the position of the president that we cannot spend the money because we are not purchasing officers and that we should take the money to the district.
Finally, we have the position of the court, however untenable it may be that we shouldn’t touch the money even if it is on our accounts. Surprisingly, some people’s accounts in Orient bank have been sort of frozen. For now we can only speculate what the courts will come up with. I am sure the executive will be keen on enforcing whatever the courts come up with.
So it will be great for us to meet after we have got the court ruling; reconcile the three positions and decide on how resolutely move forward.”
“Senga am not insinuating that you are Yuda but am persuading you not to return the money anywhere …..take heart ️ as we wait for events to unfold.”
The other time you impressed us when you told us that your convoy knocked a goat. But this time, ahaaaaa”
“Court said don’t spend the money, Kadaga said spend the money even using mobile money ????, M7 says take the money to the CAO. What should an MP do?”