Legislators sitting on the budget committee have resolved to halt the allocation of Shs 89.6 billion request by the ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs to finance the ongoing 'operation Shujja' in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The ministry officials led by the minister of state for Defence, Jacob Oboth Oboth on Monday tabled the budget request before parliament’s defence and internal affairs committee to finance Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF) operation against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels.
Oboth then said that the proposed budget would cover the cost of logistics, communication and welfare requirements for the operation, among others. He said that the budget is for only the anticipated 12 months’ operation.
The UPDF launched air and artillery raids against the ADF key bases in eastern DRC with the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) in November 2021. Before the operation in DRC, the government had accused ADF rebels of being behind a string of suicide bombings in Uganda.
Now, MPs says that the Shs 89 billion budgetary allocation be halted until the responsible officials address the House on the UPDF presence in DRC.
This position by MPs on the budget committee followed a presentation of a report by the defence and internal affairs committee chairperson, Rosemary Nyakikongolo on different security entities regarding the budget framework paper for the financial year 2022/2023.
Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the Kira Municipality MP questioned why government is seeking an appropriation for something they failed to brief parliament about. He proposed that the proposed allocation waits until parliament is appropriately addressed about the UPDF presence in DRC.
John Baptist Nambeshe, the opposition chief whip also shared the same sentiments, saying that parliament is entitled to get details of the DRC operation. Nsamba Oshabe, the Kassanda North MP insisted that parliament is briefed first before any debate and budget allocation towards the UPDF operation in DRC.
Patrick Isiagi, the budget committee chairperson also noted that they must have been briefed on the operation before any funding proposal is presented.
Speaking to journalists after appearing before the committee, Nyakikongolo said that the minister of Defence is ready to appear and provide details regarding 'operation Shujja'. She said that the operation is not benefiting anyone personally but the entire country.
Minister Oboth on Monday told journalists that they didn’t come to parliament first because it was strategic in the operation that they don’t give as much information as is required.
“Going to Congo, most people think we went under section 39 of the Constitution…that is not true, we went under Section 40 which does not require parliamentary approval, but we have to give parliament information and the delay is regrettable,” said Oboth.
He emphasized that the ministry leadership takes political responsibility for the delayed provision of information. Oboth however maintains that they had good reasons for the good of Ugandans.