The Deputy Speaker, Anita Among is set to constitute a select committee of Parliament to investigate allegations that over Sh31b meant for the development of a local Covid19 vaccine were misappropriated before the House approves a Shs.59b supplementary budget meant for the fund in question.
In the eye of the storm is the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Monica Musenero who the Ntungamo Municipality MP, Yona Musinguzi is accusing of mismanaging the fund established by President Yoweri Museveni to spearhead science and technology innovations including developing of a local vaccine.
Musinguzi this afternoon lay on the floor of Parliament evidence alleging that Musenero has been the mastermind behind the misappropriation of the Sh31b meant for developing a local Covid19 vaccine.
He had last week, during a plenary session expressed concern that no progress has been made on the development of the locally made vaccine even when money was availed for its development.
Musinguzi claimed that the funds had been given to fictitious companies masquerading as scientist organizations and demanded that the funds be accounted for but the Speaker tasked him to provide evidence on the allegations which he did.
Musenero was to present a statement on the progress in the development of a locally made vaccine for COVID19 and accountability for the funds released for the development of the vaccine before a supplementary budget is approved but she was a no show in Parliament.
Musinguzi also informed the House that PRESIDE Company under the directorship of Musenero was accessing huge amounts of the money and yet it is not registered anywhere. He said the company, which he claims is big and might even be bigger than many Government institutions is just an initiative group of scientists disguising as an entity to develop the Covid19 vaccine.
Addressing a press conference last week, Musenero explained that PRESIDE is a programme started in March last year when the Covid19 pandemic broke out and as Presidential advisor on epidemics, she was tasked to find a team of scientists that could expeditiously develop a vaccine and that the project is ongoing.
However, Musinguzi revealed that the Minister had co-opted her husband and her nephew as members of PRESIDE who were being paid fatty salaries as staff engaged in the development of the vaccine which to him was a case of conflict of interest and nepotism.
The legislator notified the House that no feasibility study was made by PRESIDE on the development of the vaccine before it was allocated money to develop the locally made vaccine and that even the Auditor General queried the existence of the said company.
The chairman of the committee on science, technology and innovation, Achia Remigio attempted to explain that the committee was discussing the matter but was quickly challenged to present a report on the said discussions if indeed the meetings took place.
“As a scientist, I am concerned when I see masqueraders, a veterinary doctor masquerading that she can make a vaccine with money we appropriate, she uses this House to get money and my chair comes here to lie to the house that we have been talking about this,” Musinguzi raged.
He wondered how a country like Uganda would be able to develop the Covid19 vaccine yet it lacks the required facility to develop a vaccine.
“In research and development of a vaccine, a vaccine can only be developed in a biosafety lab level 4. In the whole of Africa, we only have such kind of lab in South Africa. Uganda only has a level 2 biosafety lab and that’s at the Uganda Virus Research Institute. Which lab was she going to use to make this vaccine?” Musinguzi wondered.
After laying his evidence, he informed the Deputy Speaker that he had been on the receiving end of intimidations and threats since he made the allegations and demanded that he be availed security detail for his safety.
She granted his request and asked the Minister of Internal Affairs David Muhoozi to provide the legislator with security.
Based on the allegations made by Musinguzi on the misappropriation of the funds meant for the development of the vaccine, Among referred the matter to a select committee that she will constitute to thoroughly investigate the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and report back to the House within two weeks
She said she will announce the members of the committee on Thursday 11th November 2021 and give the terms of reference of the committee.
Mbwatekamwa Gaffa (Kasambya County MP,) then rose to ask that the committee also investigates other presidential initiatives across the country because they were only serving individuals instead of serving Ugandans. He said the presidential banana initiative in his district was only serving one person instead of the people of Mubende.