What’s up doc? A brief look into Parliament Report on PRESIDE and the mismanagement of COVID-I9 funds in the Republic

I like the unfortunate phenomenon of western countries halting exportation of the COVID19 vaccine until all their citizens are fully vaccinated. This will enable Africans to wake up and manufacture their own medicines. I like the bad things because Africans sleep too much, I have never believed in dependency. This selfishness in the world is bad but it’s a shame that the whole of the African continent is asleep waiting to be saved by others… In the short run, we shall see who can sell COVID19 vaccines to us. As far as Uganda is concerned, I assure you, we will never again be in such a situation, we are making our own vaccine” – President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (27.06.2021).

Another day, another Parliament Report exposing the rot of the Government. A government that isn’t follow the laws, codes and protocols of the republic. Direct Presidential Directives which have no barring and to ambition to be achieved. Neither was there anywhere close to be legit research or able to fulfil it’s mission.

The State House and Ministries clearly miscalculated their abilities and the promise of the project. Neither did it have the scientists or the manpower to do it. There was not enough time or enough research spaces to make it happen. The budgets was to slim and there was also spending unaccounted for. A sort of troubling project, which is meant to fail. A spending spree without any accountability or transparency. A money pit without without any sort of proof of value for money. The PRESIDE and associated projects was bound to fail. The Parliamentary reports published today is called: “REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION ON COVID-19 RELATED RESEARCH FOR FY 2019/20 TO FY 202/22”.

This report is a story of how a President and the State House directs, implement and execute without proper planning or direction for that matter. It is just headache and shows what sort of enterprise the whole COVID-19 vaccine programme PRESIDE was and that’s why the quotes of this report is so explicit.

It is a total utter failure and the President is implicated it, as it is his directive and run directly from the State House. This wasn’t a Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MOFPED) or Ministry of Health. No, this was an affair out of the State House and shows how it goes. Done without being bound by law or done correctly. That’s why this was bound to fail, which it did.

Just read these quotes from the report to get the gist:

In his statement, he indicated that up to UGX. 20bn had been drawn from the consolidated fund for scientists under PRESIDE to manufacture a COVID-I9 vaccine and an additional UGX. 50bn was drawn on 2021 for PRESIDE, and yet supervising Ministry (Ministry of Science, Technolory and Innovation) had been disbanded. He further questioned the legality of the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE), queried its staffing, operations and whether its premises in Ntinda that had no laboratories would be able to produce a vaccine” (May 2022 report).

Overall funding for COVID- 19 research was as follows:

– UGX. 5.3bn for PRESIDE FY 2019/20

– UGX. 31.03bn for projects under PRESIDE, UGX. 3.35bn for PRESIDE secretariat operations, and UGX. 2.74bn under NRIP in FY2020/2l

– UGX. 25bn for project operations, a supplementary request of UGX. 50.4bn for a manufacturing plant and UGX. 27bn for additional operational funds for PRESIDE projects in FY 2021/22” (May 2022 report).

A total of (seventeen) 17 projects (Project l-17) was presented before Parliament with a total budget of UGX. 25bn, for implementation in FY2021/22. When additional funds of UGX. 27bn became available through a supplementary budget, the total number of projects raised to 27, where 10 new projects (Projects 18-27) were introduced and two of the already approved projects i.e. (projects 6 (Immune Therapy – Convalescent plasma). and 14 (Herbal Products for Management of COVID-19) were dropped. The Committee found that the two projects should have been given funds for implementation whether there was a supplementary or not since their budgets had already been approved by Parliament in the Ministerial Policy Statement. No reasons were given for their exclusion” (May 2022 report).

The Committee while interacting with the petitioner was informed that PRESIDE was a company formed by Dr. Monica Musenero and some of her family members including her husband. These allegations were disputed by Hon. Musenero, who informed the Committee that PRESIDE is neither an organtzation nor a company but a project under State House” (…) However, the Committee noted that the establishment of PRESIDE violates governance rules, as it has no legal status. The initiative has not been incorporated in accordance with the laws of Uganda. Therefore it is not a legal entity. The Committee also observed from the concerned officials that no steps had been taken to have it legally established” (May 2022 report).

Although PRESIDE was established with a visionary mandate, to be a vehicle to spear the pathogen economy, it has been mired with mismanagement, poor accountability practices and overall poor planning. At its inception, Government failed to define its legality, failed to analyze and optimize the structures that were already in place and build on these as a way of driving the pathogen economy forward. This went against the current government policy on rationalization and improvement of efficiencies within MDAs. The role of UNHRO, MoSTI, UNCST as regulators was usurped and replaced with PRESIDE which had a temporary supervisory framework in form of a MoU. With the expiry of the MoU, PRESIDE as a project remained operational yet not supervised because its Chairperson is the Minister responsible for the docket of STI and also the Special Presidential Advisor on Epidemics” (May 2022 report).

Reading a report like this is shattering. It just shows how the state is mismanaging funds and how the State House isn’t preparing things ahead. The whole PRESIDE shows how a Presidential Directive is put into life, but never able to implement, because the state doesn’t have the funds, manpower or the facilities to do it. The PRESIDE is an utter failure…

The National Resistance Movement (NRM) was all talk, but no business. They can start-up organizations and projects, but they have no plans of the implementation or protocols to ensure it is successful. PRESIDE is a proof on how not to run a project… as it has had no plan or any sort of proof that it would actually manage the mission from the on-set.

The ones that believes the NRM would be able to produce a COVID-19 vaccine was day-dreaming, because the whole PRESIDE can be seen as a nightmare. The ones running it should be ashamed and it was a waste of government funding. Nothing to show for it and only a name-tag, which runs back to the State House and the Presidential Directive. A

All of it is a waste … the President should be held to account as he ushered it in and it did nothing. They will fault everyone, but if it wasn’t for him… this mess wouldn’t exist and the report wouldn’t have been published either.

The PRESIDE should be lectured at Makerere University or something in how not to run things and be a case-study in bad-governance. This is a proof of how not to govern and nothing was done correctly. That’s why it deserve to be acknowledged and used as a learning experience. Since, the next government could do another properly and actually achieve something worthwhile. Peace.

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