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Court dismisses petition against sh64b for MPs' cars

By Barbra Kabahumuza, Michael Odeng

Added 27th October 2016 02:17 PM

Sh100m has already been paid to each MP who has no pending petition in the Court of Appeal

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Defense lawyer Shaban Sanywa addresses the media after the case was dismissed. Photo by Ramadhan Abbey

Sh100m has already been paid to each MP who has no pending petition in the Court of Appeal

The Constitutional court has dismissed an interim application, seeking to block Government from paying sh150m to each Member of Parliament (MP) for their personal car purchase.

Justice Richard Buteera ruled that the petitioner, Twaha Sanywa had failed to demonstrate to court of how he and the general public will suffer damage which cannot be compensated by any amount if the said money is spent on MPs.

In his ruling read by assistant registrar, Rosemary Bareebe, Buteera alluded to the fact that in future if the same court finds that Parliament wrongly paid sh64b to its 427 members, it can easily make an order to recover the said money from them to the extent of selling the estates of those who would have died by then.

According to sources, sh100m has already been paid to each MP who has no pending petition in the Court of Appeal, thereby leaving a balance of sh50m.

He stated that the main petition, pending hearing by a panel of five Constitutional Court Judges has merit, adding that court has a duty to look into how government spends tax payers’ money on MPs to buy personal vehicles for each term of office.

The ruling was passed in the absence of senior state attorney Gorreth Arinaitwe and Shaban Sanywa, the lawyer representing the petitioner. 

Sanywa, a resident of Kajjansi in Wakiso district petitioned the Constitutional Court, challenging the parliamentary entitlement of purchasing vehicles for MPs out of the consolidated fund or tax payers’ money.

According to Sanywa, this places the MPs at a preferential treatment against their counterparts both in the Judiciary and the executive who perform their services.

“The act of the said MPs is a preferential treatment that discriminates other arms of Government like the Judiciary and Executive arms. This petition is also meant to protect the social and economic rights of the general public,” he contends.

Sanywa avers that unless the Constitutional Court intervenes, the general public is most likely to suffer great financial loss and be gravely inconvenienced if the said vehicles are purchased.

"Tax payers stand a risk of loss of public funds at the hands of parliament in the exercise of its alleged privilege and or entitlement if not restrained by court,” he further contends.

Defending gov't’s position before the Constitution Court, Arinaitwe argued that Sanywa has not pleaded any special circumstances including of how he will suffer a loss that cannot be compensated for damages if sh64b is paid out to MPs.

Arinaitwe based her submission on an affidavit sworn by the Clerk to Parliament; Jane Kibirige, who said such privileges and benefits enjoyed by MPs are provided for under the law.

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