Presidential handshake refund draws mixed reactions

Presidential handshake refund draws mixed reactions
President Museveni and E-Guinea President H.E Teodoro Obiang Nguema during a State Visit to Uganda

Members of the Public have expressed mixed reactions on a move by President Yoweri Museveni to refund the six billion Shillings paid out in the infamous presidential handshake.

The money was paid out as a token of appreciation to 42 public servants who aided Uganda to secure USD 400 million (1.4 trillion Shillings) in capital gains tax from Heritage oil’s sale of its stake to Tullow Oil in 2015. The payment, now referred to the presidential handshake attracted sharp criticism from the public, MPs and civil society among other sections of the public.

President Museveni has since told the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authority and State Enterprises (COSASE) that the payout was a mistake that resulted from bad advice. He further directed that the money should be recovered from the presidential pledges and donations budget and returned to Uganda Revenue Authority.

Some Members of the public have welcomed the gesture, while others said the refund is worthless.

Cissy Kagaba, the Executive Director of the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) said the president’s move is very ironical, adding that this is still abuse of the public’s money. She adds that the people who misguided the president should be held personally accountable for the mess.

Kagaba adds that refund would be worth celebrating if each of the 42 individuals returned their share of the presidential handshake.

“It’s unfortunate that the president does not see this again, picking money from the presidential budget and giving it back to URA still does not add up,” she said.

Kilak South MP Anthony Akol noted that the president should only refund money from his personal fund and not from the presidential donations and pledges budget. He similarly demands that officials who shared the ‘loot’ should be forced to return the money.

Dokolo South MP Felix Okot Ogong says that the refund could spark another alarm. He says the refund is welcome if the president is pooling resources from his personal projects and endeavors.

Woboya Vincent, the Budadiri East Member of Parliament and member of COSASE however says in his own opinion, the president is doing the right thing refunding the money to URA. He says their major concern is not the fact that the president rewarded the officers but rather on the procedure followed and where the money came from.

Abubakar Waiswa, a motorcyclist in Kampala said the president is returning the money only because of too much pressure from the public adding that the move is welcome since now the URA resource envelope will have additional finances to run the economy.