East Africa

MPs vow to reject Shs5m offer for marriage Bill

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Some lawmakers indicated yesterday they will not accept the Shs5 million the government is giving them for consultations on the controversial Marriage and Divorce Bill.

The MPs questioned the motive behind the “unsolicited” facilitation from the government since they receive a monthly allowance from Parliament in form of mileage, depending on the distance to go and consult their people.

“The money is an outright bribe to discredit Parliament and it is not different from the Shs5 million that was offered to the MPs during the Seventh Parliament to [remove term limits from the Constitution and] approve President Museveni’s third term,” said Ms Betty Nambooze (Mukono Municipality).

The MPs, according to sources, are to receive the Shs5 million today. The money comes days after several of them pleaded with President Museveni to come to their rescue since they are choking with debts.
Also during the recent NRM parliamentary caucus, members reportedly echoed the same plea prompting Mr Museveni to direct that they be given money – the opposition inclusive.

The President in a March 21 letter to the Speaker of Parliament instructed the House Commission and the Clerk to Parliament to effect the payment of the money to the legislators in time for the consultations.
Critics, however, fear that such inducements will weaken Parliament’s oversight role since MPs, who are currently on recess, are increasingly relying on Mr Museveni’s patronage. But as some MPs promised not to take the money, others like Mr James Kakooza (Kabula) were in the corridors of Parliament mobilising colleagues not to support the Bill, saying it will create disharmony in society.

No way
Ms Nambooze said: “President Museveni has tried to discredit this Parliament and all we are getting is a vote of no confidence. I will not touch that money but will go ahead and consult my constituents. If at all my colleagues have financial problems, Parliament should have advanced us the money…”

Opposition chief whip Winnie Kizza weighed in: “This is thuggery, robbery and a waste of taxpayers’ money. Do they want to say Parliament is not giving us money for fuel this month or it’s Easter bonanza,” Ms Kizza wondered.

Mr William Nzoghu (Busongora North) also believes that since the decision to give out money was reached during the NRM caucus meeting with Mr Museveni, it is “suspicious”. Mr Ibrahim Ssemuju (Kyandondo East) said President Museveni is deliberately tempting MPs so that he can compromise them.

Others Chris Baryomunsi, Rhona Ninsiima, Joseph Ssewungu, Hussein Kyanjo and John Ken Lukyamuzi also said they will take the money back. MPs last pocketed money on the Executive’s directive at the beginning of 2011 when each received Shs20 million a few days before elections.

mnalugo@ug.nationmedia.com

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