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Parliament Clerks Caution Accountability Committees on Compromise

According to Dr Tumukwasibwe, the focus of opposition-led accountability committees is Anti-corruption that includes misuse, diversion, embezzlement of public funds; stealing of public assets; nepotism in the recruitment of public servants and award of tenders and others.
Members of the Opposition, led by their Leader Mathias Mpuuga stretch during their induction at Parliament. Photo by Olive Nakatudde

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Parliament’s Clerks Department has appealed to leaders of different accountability committees to avoid being compromised on audit queries.

Dr Robert Tumukwasibwe, the Assistant Director Clerks Department and Leonard Okema, the Principal Clerk Assistant on Friday addressed Opposition MPs on the role of parliamentary committees and parliamentary oversight respectively.

Parliament has four accountability committees, all chaired by Opposition MPs. They include the Public Accounts Committee- PAC Central Government, Public Accounts Committee- PAC Local Government, the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises –COSASE, and the Government Assurance Committee. 

Their core function is to ensure transparency and accountability in the application of public funds and they are mandated to examine the audited accounts of the Auditor General showing the use of funds appropriated by Parliament to meet the public expenditure of the government.

According to Dr Tumukwasibwe, the focus of opposition-led accountability committees is Anti-corruption that includes misuse, diversion, embezzlement of public funds; stealing of public assets; nepotism in the recruitment of public servants and award of tenders and others.

He also said that the focus of the four accountability committees should be on anti-political deception through false promises made by the President, the Vice President, the Ministers who should not make false promises to Ugandans on the floor of the House.

However, Tumukwasibwe said that one of the key challenges is when the committee leadership, the secretariat is compromised or bribed.

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He also emphasized that conflict of interest should be taken seriously because it is also a form of corruption.

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Okema advised accountability committee leaders to develop a matrix for different audit queries with matching penalties to avoid delayed decisions and close gaps for compromise. He says that Accountability Committees should always pass judgment based on the findings of the auditor general.

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Okema emphasized that deferral decision making by accountability committees is an avenue for compromise.

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Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of Opposition said that his leadership is trying to do things differently and that for accountability committees, one of the gatekeeping mechanisms they are adopting is regular reporting to avoid deference of urgent issues.

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Mpuuga however noted that part of the endemic corruption is deeply rooted in the staff of parliament and there is a need to find a mechanism for it.

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While delivering his State of the Nation Address in June 2021, President Yoweri Museveni took issue with corruption and blamed officials in the Ministry of Finance where he said the vice starts. 

 “Corruption starts at the Ministry of Finance where projects are designed with extras; adding things that are not supposed to be there; these projects then go to Committees of Parliament…and I want to warn the Committees, then the Auditor-General, where there is collusion all the way,” he said.