Following the perceived threats on the lives of the Members of Parliament (MPs) who voted for the scrapping of the Presidential Age Limit, the Government has announced further measures to provide them with bodyguards. Initially, President Yoweri Museveni had indicated that there would be a single soldier assigned to each MP as a security detail.
The new measures involve the security detail being composed of a Toyota Four-wheel drive vehicle, which is rigged with an armed military or Police patrol escort, of normally six soldiers, at the back of the pick-up. This added announcement indicates a ramping-up of armed security patrol for the MPs. From the lay man’s point of view, this measure appears to be way beyond the threat potential that is posed to each MP.
By announcing these measures, obviously the President is concerned about the threat. It points out that there are people who are not happy with the law removing the Age Limit. It can only be the Executive and Parliament to assess the veracity of the threat.
But from a lay person’s point of view, the measures appear to be over-dramatized. Taking into account that there are about 456 MPs in the House, the bodyguard will even cover the MPs, who opposed the removal of the Age Limit. Surely, those who would pose a threat to the other MPs would not pose a threat to those who are on their side.
Moreover, the statistics alone appear daunting. If six soldiers are going to be attached to each MP, there would be not less than 2, 400 soldiers, or nearly three battalions, on a daily basis attached to the Law makers. Even without taking into account their allowances, the more than 400 vehicles involved, in the amount of fuel consumed is quite prohibitive for this one activity. And for how long will this go on?
This comes at the back of the recent very controversial raising of tax on the Mobile Money and social media users that has brought the hackles of the people up countrywide. The idea here is that Government is raising money for some of the social services it needs for service delivery, including the salary arrears and pensions that have been a problem for some time.
So if Government is undertaking this obviously huge body guarding expenditure immediately, it means that there is money in the Treasury for other things, even without raising taxes. So why is it bringing a burden of more taxes on the citizens?
This measure is likely to bring more public resentment since Mobile Money and social media taxing has already caused an economic multiplier effect on all the prices of consumer goods and services. It has been further made worse by the rise in fuel pump prices and the fall in the value of the shilling as tagged to the dollar.
It is going to take Government some considerable convincing to get the people to willingly accept this security detail for the MPs.