To Wafula Oguttu, the leader of opposition in parliament (LOP), corruption in the august House has taken on an official tagline. Oguttu said in an April 2 interview at his LOP office that official corruption in parliament was mostly happening through procurement.
“There are a lot of inflated prices here on everything bought,” he said, turning to a 23-inch flat screen hanging on his office wall. “You can buy that small TV at Shs 800,000 from town, but parliament buys it at over Shs 2m.”
He said a small digital still camera which costs $2,000 [about Shs 5.8m] can be bought by parliament at $5,000 or even $10,000 (Shs 14.5m or Shs 29m).
Oguttu said some technocrats had made corruption official by “pre-qualifying their own companies.”
He said one person can own five companies pre-qualified to repair vehicles, “then he bids against himself.”
“I had an experiment here because I haven’t had my official car for over a month now, they are repairing [its] brakes and they want Shs 8m. So, I sent my driver to pick quotations, and there was a big difference,” he said.
He also said some parliamentary employees furnish bidders with information about budgets for a “given item so that they bid for all of it [budgetmoney] and parliament will never save because bidders know the entire budget.”
He said parliament also dictates which hotels parliamentarians must use on official duty.
“You are forced to go and eat in particular hotels here [at parliament] which is not okay.”
Asked what he is doing as LOP to fight corruption, Oguttu said: “What we have checked is MPs’ corruption on, say, travels abroad because if you are to go for five days, you must go and be there to the end unlike in the past where MPs got money and attended half of the function, or didn’t go at all so MPs can’t cheat parliament anymore,” he said.
To rein in the technical people, Oguttu said, the PPDA Act needs to be revised. According to him, the act is to blame for the inflated prices in almost all government procurements.
Parliament’s spokesperson Helen Kawesa couldn’t be reached for a comment by press time. But in 2013, when Oguttu made similar claims, she said: “We encourage transparency and if the member [Oguttu] feels there is corruption, he can bring up those things because there are clear avenues through which they can be handled.”
Wakiso Woman MP and Parliamentary Commissioner Rosemary Sseninde on Monday denied knowledge of the corruption Oguttu alleged.
“It could have been his opinion, but since he is a commissioner, we shall ask him during a commission meeting to give us information such that we can investigate it,” Sseninde said.
Clerk to parliament Jane Kibirige, the accounting officer, also promised to take up the matter with Oguttu.
“Not aware! [I] Will check with him [Oguttu] for information,” Kibirige said yesterday.
Oguttu was also critical of speaker Rebecca Kadaga, whom he accused of behaving too deferentially towards President Museveni.
“I think she has bent too much to the president… especially since Amama [Mbabazi] fell and it’s very clear in her manner she takes decisions which we don’t expect her to have taken, she doesn’t want consultation and if she wants to push the government position, she pushes it, and it has been so ever since Mbabazi fell.”
He also said Museveni has turned parliament into a “garrison of hundreds of policemen.”
“We have fought against it and we want the sergeant-at-arms to be in charge of the security at parliament, but the speaker has said that because of [terrorism] threats, we have to go by that.”
However, Ranny Ismail, who speaks for Kadaga, literally accused Oguttu of raising the corruption issues in the wrong forum.
“There are better forums that he [Oguttu] can use to address issues like those he sits in the Parliamentary commission and running parliament is a collective responsibility,” Ismail said on Monday.
“If there is any matter, it can be addressed administratively because he has more access to the speaker than any member of parliament [in his position as LOP] and he is given priority.”
Source : The Observer