The classified budget of Ministry of Defence has exponentially increased from Shs342b to Shs607b amid concerns that the money might be diverted to finance campaigns for President Museveni and candidates for the ruling National Resistance Movement(NRM) during next year’s General Elections.
According to Ministry of Defence 2015/16 budget estimates presented before Parliament’s Defence and Internal Affairs Committee today, the bulk of the expenditure will be used to finance operations of the UPDF mission in South Sudan, unspecified expenses on the Land Forces and purchasing what is listed as Special equipment.
But the spring in the classified cash run into trouble after Butambala County MP Muwanga Kivumbi and Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo raised suspicion that the Defence Ministry may be using the classified expenditure scheme as a cash cow to secure campaign financing for the NRM.
The MPs latched on to revelations made by Bank of Uganda Governor Tumusiime Mutebiile-who in December last year, admitted that elements in the regime misled him into indirectly funding electioneering activities in the 2011 elections, throwing the economy into unmatched chaos.
Governor Mutebile’s revelations were lent credence by last month’s Parliament report that pinned several senior government officials over diverting a Shs10 billion fund meant for market vendors and small business operators to bankroll President Museveni’s 2011 election campaign.
“We have heard a confession from the bank of Uganda governor that there have been problems with money coming from Bank of Uganda during a campaign period. Can you assure the country beyond reasonable doubt that the Ministry of Defence is not a conduit for campaign finance and you are using the military,”Kivumbi asked.
Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo accused the Defence Ministry of dishonesty- contending that money allocated under classified expenditure is later used to bankroll ordinary operations-making the scheme open to abuse.
But Defence Minister Kiyonga insisted the classified expenditure is for purchasing special equipment- and not financing campaigns.
Meanwhile, the Army is in the final stages of taking punitive action against Gen David Sejusa if he does not change his ways. Defence Minister Kiyonga said today “definite action will be taken “against the former spy chief for participating in politics, in violation of Army rules.
“If you are in a disciplined Force, you must follow the code of conduct. You must conduct yourself in accordance with the rules that govern a disciplined institution. It was correct that General Sejusa should leave Parliament because of the way he conducted himself. I want to assure you that definite action will be taken,” Mr Kiyonga said.