Ugandan legislators are facing criticism for receiving about Ush40 million ($10,500) each from unbudgeted sources at the time the country is struggling with rising costs of living.
This was in addition to the over Ush190 billion ($50 million) in the 2022/23 budget to cushion the legislators from the rising cost of living.
Opposition National Unity Platform (NUP), headed by Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine lifted the lid on the matter and ordered its legislators who had picked the money to return it, calling it a bribe.
Leader of opposition in Parliament Matthias Mpuuga, who called the NUP meeting in which only 17 of the 56 members attended, insisted the money has to be returned.
According to the party, the ruling National Resistance Movement MPs received this money in cash from their Chief Whip’s office at Parliament, while opposition and independent MPs were receiving it from the home of Anita Among, the Speaker of Parliament, with the members being told that the money was a token of appreciation, while others were told it was meant to supplement their income in the tough economic situation in the country.
“It should have been obvious the money was both illegal and immoral, given it was being given out in cash without explanation about its source and purpose. We appreciate those who realised this trap and refused to partake of it,” the party said.
Sources at parliament, however, said that indeed the money was a token of appreciation to MPs for recently passing of a Ush77 billion ($20 million) supplementary classified budget that saw the statehouse take a huge chunk of it.
This is not the first time legislators have received money from the presidency before or after a controversial law is muscled through Parliament. In 2005, MPs received Ush5 million ($1,300) in such a manner after changing the constitution lifting of the presidential term limits.
In 2011, they received Ush20 million each, for mobilisation in their constituencies. In 2017, they received money termed as an allowance, to influence them in lifting the age limit amendments.
In 2020, they got Ush20 million, which then Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga termed an allowance to mobilise people in the prevention against the Covid-19.
Additional reporting by Nelson Naturinda