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MPs should champion the interests of the poor

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th February 2011 03:00 AM

FIVE years ago, several Members of Parliament (MPs) especially those who seemed to present an alternative approach to governance largely campaigned on a platform stressing how the tax payers’ money was being misused by the Government.

FIVE years ago, several Members of Parliament (MPs) especially those who seemed to present an alternative approach to governance largely campaigned on a platform stressing how the tax payers’ money was being misused by the Government.

By Patrick Mutegeki

FIVE years ago, several Members of Parliament (MPs) especially those who seemed to present an alternative approach to governance largely campaigned on a platform stressing how the tax payers’ money was being misused by the Government.

They moved from village to village and used every opportunity they got especially with the press to pass on a relatively clear message that they were the best people to trust when it came to public funds.

Some even insisted that as people of a particular gender and from a particular ethnic group, they would not be party to ‘misuse’ of public funds.

The message was so consistent and convincing that with the help of some civil society organisations, a significant percentage of the population voted in favour of the present MPs.

Shortly after they had been sworn in, in 2005, a number of reports appeared in our dailies. These reports suggested that our dear MPs needed the peasantry tax payer to buy them cars.

A peasant that the MP had appeared to heroically defend during the campaigns as struggling to fund governance expenditure was this time being asked by this same MP for a car and its fuel.

The same peasantry tax payer who struggles to buy pain killers when his family members are sick was also being asked by the same heroic MP to fund the honourable’s medical care expenses. By the way, an MP receives on average of about sh15m every month and yet an average voter earns less than sh50,000 a month.

Five years later, this January, to be exact, the same honourable MPs, together with their usual allies, are back. Basically, undertaking the same comedy. One of them kicked off the drama ensuring that the cameras are on site.

She clearly shows off records showing that she has received sh20m from the tax payer and that she is very sympathetic to the tax payer. She informs her audience that she cannot accept such money. She is later followed by a few other members while more promise to do the same. Then a group of civil society organisations swing into action threatening court action over the sh20m.

The parliamentary commission said the money was meant for monitoring government programmes. While this in itself raises serious questions, one may also conclude that the free car, its fuel and the annual sh10m constituency development fund accepted by the same MPs fall in the same category.

All largely paid for by the same peasant already footing the MP’s monthly salary bill.

Being an MP should be a highly cherished opportunity to serve and legislatively help a country to develop. MPs should be able to help the poorest in society to meet their daily livelihood obligations including food, shelter, medical care, clothing and education if our dear country is to continue developing.

Being an MP should never be about returning sh20m while individually accepting about sh1b over a period of five years and then claim to champion the interests of the poor. Integrity starts from day one and goes all the way.

The writer is a development studies lecturer and Ag. Associate Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Kampala International University





MPs should champion the interests of the poor

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