Assaulted: Dr. Monica Musenero
Speaker Anita Among has lashed out at a section of MPs who attacked Dr Monica Musenero Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology, warning that Parliament will not protect errant lawmakers who bully and assault their fellows simply because of disagreement in opinions.
The Speaker made her rant in her communication during the plenary sitting where she lashed out at Naboth Namara (Rubabo County) for attacking Musenero after the heated debate report of the select committee on Science, Technology and Innovation on Covid-19 related research for FY2019/2022 to 2021/2022.
She said, ““What we do inside here impacts on how people consider us outside, I strongly caution some of our colleagues, when you finish a debate here let us not go and attack our colleagues outside.”
The Speaker added, “It is very unfortunate, I watched a video where Musenero was attacked in the steps and I felt so bad. Why do members do like that, the impunity that we are exercising and the limit we have is only here, outside if someone takes action on you, don’t come running to us. Let us be honourable enough and we need each other, much as you may want to do something like censure, treat someone nicely. That kind of behavior is uncalled for.”
The Speaker doubled down on her attack taking to twitter, describing Naboth’s attack as despicable and unacceptable and asked MPs to treat each other with decorum and respect and threatened to refer other MPs who attack Musenero to the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline.
Parliament approved the recommendations of the Select Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation calling for the disbandment of the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE) following the uncovering of gross irregularities in its operations.
It should be recalled that on 10th November 2021, Speaker instituted a select committee to investigate the allegations of irregularities reported on utilisation of funds for the Covid-19 vaccine development by PRESIDE under the supervision of Musenero.
This followed a petition tabled by Yona Musinguzi (Ntungamo Municipality) who raised concern with PRESIDE stating that over Shs50Bn had been withdrawn by the Presidential Initiative from the state coffers but without clear expenditure.
While presenting the report, Xavier Kyooma, Chairperson of Select Committee said that Dr Musenero had revealed that clinical trials were complete and satisfactory yet the committee noticed that they had not been patented and subjected to empirical testing. They had also not been approved by the National Drug Authority.
“The construction of the plant to produce the candidate vaccine was premature because the vaccine had not been authenticated by either the World Health Organisation or National Drug Authority for it to be mass-produced,” he added.
The committee could not also ascertain using the evidence presented to it whether a candidate vaccine had been developed because the scientific information was non-committal.
“There was also no mention of the patenting of a COVID vaccine,” Kyooma said.
Kyooma held that PRESIDE operational funds to the tune of Shs2.6 billion were not accounted for because of poor operational management of the initiative. He said that there were no guidelines for reporting lines and therefore, ‘there should be accounting officers who can be held responsible for any financial loses’
The committee recommended that she should be relieved of her duties as Chairperson of PRESIDE to avoid conflict of interest and for the good governance.
PRESIDE, according to the Committee should be disbanded due to the irregularities in its operations and lack of proper structures as well as failure to meet its Memorandum of Understanding.