The Deputy Speaker, Anita Among has directed the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Monica Musenero, to present a report to Parliament on the progress of locally developing a COVID-19 vaccine and accountability for funds released for the project.
She also directed the Minister to include in the report the state of science and technology in the country, including the transition, funding and planned activities of the Ministry.
“The minister should come back with a report on science, technology and innovation and what exactly they do. We are giving you time to come back to the house in two weeks to give information on the transition progress of the ministry, the innovation fund and how it is accessed,” said Among
The directive followed a statement by the Minister on the Uganda National Science week and commemoration of the World Science Day that will happen at Kololo on November 10, 2021.
There was, however, uproar following concerns raised by Ntungamo Municipality MP Yona Musinguzi that billions of shillings had been appropriated and released towards the development of the COVID-19 vaccine yet there was no clear progression of the vaccine development and accountability.
Musinguzi, a former assistant commissioner in the Ministry of Science, said that in 2020, a group of scientists convinced the President that they could produce a vaccine for COVID-19, and indeed, they went ahead and drew big sums of money to offset the initiative.
He added that in 2020 the group of scientists drew USD 20 billion under the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics. He noted that the group of scientists led by Dr Musenero also received UGX 50 billion during the current Financial Year 2021/21 after convincing the President that they would ensure the production of a vaccine.
The Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics, a brainchild of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, is led by Dr Musenero, a presidential advisor on epidemics when it was unveiled.
The Initiative was started purposely to enhance the development of science and research in the country. The initiative seeks to advance scientific research through better funding and organization.
The initiative works through various bodies including the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), the Uganda National Council of Science and Technology (UNCST), Makerere University Institute of Science and Technology/Food Science, and the various research stations across the country.
Museveni in his addresses to the country has remained optimistic that Uganda will no longer need COVID-19 vaccine donations because the country is in the advanced stages of starting production of its vaccines.
Chua West, MP Okin Ojara said Musinguzi was presenting a serious allegation and requested for a full statement to the House so that it can be discussed and investigations perused.
The Leader of the Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga said that the allegations raised by Musinguzi were serious and that there was the need for the Minister to explain herself against the allegations before any other supplementary budget for the science ministry is approved.
The Government Chief Whip, Thomas Tayebwa said that it was going to be difficult to subject the Minister to a committee over allegations without evidence.