President Museveni’s promise to create a special fund from tax payers’ sweat to care for former legislators has been met with anger but also praise from across the Ugandan public.
President Museveni made the promise during the occasion of the Award of Golden Jubilee Medals of members of the 1st to the 9th Parliament recently during a momentous occasion organized by the Presidential awards committee.
The Sunrise spoke with former and current Members of Parliament (MP) some of whom dismissed it as mere bait aimed at renting political support from the largely impoverished former politicians, while others have welcomed it as a godsend security against the threat of poverty.
Dr. John Baptist Lokii the MP for Matheniko County in both the 9th and 10th Parliament told The Sunrise that the offer was long over due citing a growing number of MPs who are struggling to meet the cost of living within a few years of leaving Parliament.
Lokii explained that MPs face what he termed as unbearable pressure from their constituents during their term of service which he said makes some of them even poorer than when they first set foot at the parliament.
“It is true that some MPs are penniless by the time they come to the end of their term in office owing to the countless demands they face in the process of trying to satisfy the demands of their constituents to the extent that some plunge in terrible poverty making their lives even worse than before, ” Lokii said.
Citing the Uganda Parliamentary Pensions bill passed by the 9th Parliament which he said is pending presidential assent, Lokii welcomed the Presidential intervention as a necessary idea that even after it will be signed into law, it (the bill) is not inclusive enough to cater for all former legislators’ right from the first parliament.
“After this good news, I can now look back and appreciate the foresight of the president to have delayed his signature on the bill, I am sure he must have realized its exclusivity and therefore the need for its amendment to make it as inclusive as possible for the benefit of all former legislators from the independence parliament,” Lokii added triumphantly.
But former Buikwe MP Dr. Lulume Bayiga, who, like his Democratic (DP) President Norbert Mao snubbed the awards fete, dismissed the presidential offer as a sheer M7’s gimmick to buy favours from different groupings among Ugandans expecting political rewards in return.
“It is high time President Museveni came to terms with the challenge of the time and that is to make the economy work for every body rather than singling out just a few particular groups such former MPs for such favours simply because he expects to take advantage of their influence as opinion leaders among various communities in Uganda,” said Bayiga.
He was echoed by Former Rubaga South MP John Kenny Lukyamuzi who branded the offer as “an unnecessary appeasement” which according to him is a calculated move to insulate former legislators from what he termed as escalating misrule in the country.
Lukyamuzi instead advised the ex-MPs to form an organisation to which funds can be channelled by willing donors targeting former legislators as a catalyst to address a variety of noble causes such collecting “evils in Uganda’s governance.”