Members of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) in Parliament were reportedly rewarded with between Shs40m – Shs100m each for their role in supporting a motion that sought to recognize President Museveni in the commendable fight against Coronavirus and as a reward for voting to remove the presidential age limit in 2017.
The news of the reward came out nearly two weeks ago and has left the public more annoyed with Parliament and Museveni because the new scandal came only weeks after the controversial Shs10 billion Covid cash bonanza that was openly criticized by President Yoweri Museveni, sparking off a war of words between the House and the executive.
The legislators were so annoyed with Museveni that they passed a motion moved by Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda to express displeasure in the President and advised him to always write to Parliament instead of embarrassing the House in public like he did in his April 28 address in which said it was morally reprehensible for MPs to award themselves money when Ugandans were starving due to Covid lockdown.
In meetings that followed, Museveni suggested that Covid constituency taskforces be formed to be headed by MPs and each should get Shs 40 million to help overcome pressures from their voters. But NRM committee chairperson rejected this proposal and told Museveni to revive the Community Development Fund.
Some reports claim that in that very meeting, some members of the NRM Caucus like Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa, her deputy Solomon Silwany and publicity secretary Margaret Muhanga reminded the president of the unfulfilled promise of a reward for the party MPs who stood with him during the process of removing the age limit in 2017. After this, Museveni is said to have ordered the party treasurer to get some Shs40 million for each of the 317 MPs.
With reports of the reward putting MPs in bad light again, public denial that there was nothing received as alleged seemed not to work. It is this that prompted Burahya County MP Muhanga to suggest that the rebel MPs who first made noise about this money be penalized.
Just a week before, MPs Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga), Monica Amoding (Kumi), Joseph Ssewungu (Kalungu West) and Gerald Karuhanga (Ntungamo Municipality) MP told reporters that the 317 MP had received between Shs 40 million and Shs 100 million at Kati Kati Restaurant as a reward for removing age limit. These are the MPs that Muhanga wants to be quizzed and punished for soiling the image of fellow MPs through claims that have since renewed public anger against Parliament.
Even as government labours to deny any such money bonanza to MPs, the public seems so reluctant to take the new narrative from this argument. Government Spokesperson ofwono Opondo has challenged those alleging to produce evidence to prove their claims.
“MPs have not been given 40 million, we have challenged the people who addressed the media conference, our colleagues Monica Amoding, Sekikubo and so on. We have challenged them to repeat those allegations outside Parliament because they seem to be taking advantage of the immunity they enjoy in Parliament to make slander. To slander people,” said Opondo.
Even before divulging into the authenticity of the claims, it’s evidently clear that the allegations have vindicated Kadaga who had become the target for public rage over the Shs20 million for MPs. It clearly showed that the matter for the president was not on why the money had been given to the Members of Parliament but rather why it wasn’t given to them by the Executive.
Coming at a time when the public outcry over the unprecedented public borrowing, refusal to remit NSSF savings to workers and the fraction of the worker’s salaries towards fighting COVID19, the public will certainly be angry with the President for the betrayal while as Kadaga – the intended target will enjoy the last laugh in the whole scandal.
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