Many Ugandans are surprised and very angry that the Parliament of Uganda allocated 10 Billion Shillings to itself amidst an unprecedented Coronavirus crisis. The allocation of this money is not only shameful. It is insensitive to the plight of millions of Ugandans who are facing untold challenges ranging from hunger, sickness and even death.
Ugandans are bearing the brunt of this predicament. There have been reports of numerous people failing to access health centers due to limited transport means, and as a result some have succumbed to various ailments. A huge number of people across the country are in dire need of food, healthcare and other essential amenities. The Government has not done much to help them.
Ugandans are therefore justified to be very angry at this selfish action by their ‘representatives’. Our view, however, is that Ugandans should be angrier at the manner by which they are governed- the 20 million shillings is a symptom of a bigger crisis which we are fighting to resolve.
Indeed, government presented a supplementary budget of over 300 billion shillings to Parliament to aid in the fight against COVID19. Many aspects of the budget were not only luxurious, some seemed even dubious! Several legislators raised concerns about the allocation of huge sums of money for things like billboards, but they would not be heard! A Minority Report authored by Hon. Gerald Karuhanga was ignored. The budget was passed without much debate.
It will be recalled that on 24th March, we issued a statement in which we demanded that government diverts monies from all non-essential aspects and diverts it to equipping health facilities across the country, and giving incentives to health workers. Unfortunately, the same government which has never prioritised the healthcare of the people of Uganda ignored our call.
Regarding the 20 million shillings therefore, it appears that yet again, the executive thought that for the supplementary budget to pass with ease, MPs needed to get a share of this money so they don’t resist its passing. We all recall that this has been done countless times, including in the passing of immoral Constitutional amendments, such as the term limit and age limit amendments. On several occasions, MPs have been bribed to do the bidding of the Executive. This is why elections matter. This is why it should matter to all Ugandans who they elect for office at every level!
We reject the notion that this money was meant to enable Members of Parliament carry out their roles in this period. The cardinal roles of an MP include; legislation, representation, budget allocation and government oversight. None of these roles require an MP to be an extension of the Executive, in the sense that government should in addition to MPs’ salaries provide a separate budget to each MP to extend services to the people. An MP, just like any other able citizen can avail support to vulnerable people from their personal earnings (something which I personally have done and continue to do), but this money should not be drawn from the tax payers’ money.
Let me clarify that I have not received this money. Should it be deposited on my account, I will immediately order my bank to return it to the Consolidated Fund and demand that it is put to its proper purpose. We must learn to empower institutions and not seek to enrich individuals.
As we have repeatedly said, the focus of our nation at this point should be on building a robust healthcare system, and empowering our healthcare practitioners with all they need, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The People Power Movement will continue to use the available resources contributed by ourselves and other well-wishers to reach out and support some of our people who are in extreme need.
We shall also continue to demand that the government reaches out to all citizens and gives them food relief in these tough times.
And yes, we shall continue struggling day and night to put an end to the decadent and corrupt regime.
Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert
MP- Kyadondo East Constituency &
Leader of the People Power Movement