We are at it again. The proposed increment of the perks for the Members of the Parliament of Uganda. As usual many on social media have come out to ignorantly lambast this move. A typical sign of how disconnected they are from the real Uganda.
Your opposition of this move may be morally right and I subscribe to that. However, what has led us here? An understanding of the root cause will make you blame these parliamentarians less.
In Uganda, the constitutionally prescribed roles of an MP do not resonate with the expectations of the masses.
The MP’s roles officially according to the Parliament Website are:
– Budget Approval
However, that is just a tip of the iceberg and does not matter much to the voters. Walk into any constituency, especially the rural ones, the MP’s roles are:
– To participate in all fundraising functions and offer the biggest sum of money
– To pay school fees for children whose parents have failed to pay.
– To get jobs for the people
– To attend/contribute to burials
– To get law breakers out of jail
– To build roads
– To build / renovate schools or health centres
– To contribute to weddings, birthday parties among others.
– To buy ambulances
Why did I highlight their roles from the perception of the voters?
To show you the spread of expectations that clearly surpasses their income.
Let us take the example of burial contributions. Imagine an MP in a county with 5 subcounties. On average, each subcounty can have 3 burials a week, making it 15 burials in the entire county for the week. (Some of you are saying it is not true. Get down to your village area, spend a month or two there and you will tell me how many burials you will be taken to attend nearly on a daily.)
Now anyone who is political in nature or of working class cannot just Cry (the act of grieving) by giving the bereaved family a ka 5 Thou (5,000/=). It is sacrilegious. The lowest an MP can cry is 50 Thou if it is a young child.
This money has to be delivered by the MP’s agent who needs transport and airtime to go attend the burial. This creeps in an extra 20 Thou. Meaning that for each burial, an MP parts with at least 70 Thou.
15 burials in a week translates to an expenditure of UGX 1.050,000/= and in a month, 4,200,000/= as the bare minimum but this can even shoot up to twice that.
As burials are going on, you have those who run to the MP and demand that he/she treats their ailing patients in hospital or pays fees for stuck children. This one is a killer because I once saw a friend of mine who was at one time an MP in Mayuge District with a pile of over thirty bankslips on his desk. I am sure his failure to address all of them as desired could have led to his eventual exit.
Then you have people who join politics to get a job.They borrow so much during the campaigns only to get there and realise that the money they perceived as much was just a mirage. They initially get excited upon being given a cheque of millions for the first time in their wretched lives and immediately adjust their lifestyles. They rent a big house in Muyenga, take on more wives, borrow without serious planning among others.
In all this, you realise that the source of the problem is us the society. We beg money from these guys to give them our vote, so they have to get it from somewhere and pay it back. When they get in, their political survival is dependent on how they babysit us. You may not be doing so but the vast majority of the electorate has heaped a big burden on these legislators and it is sickening. Reliance on the salary and allowances will not suffice for them, that I can surely tell you. This is what leads them to start cutting corners that lead to corrupt tendencies so they can maintain a larger than life existence.
If these MPs are to satisfy the never ending demands of their electorate, they will need more money paid to them.
This is where we need to get out of our slumber, especially we the so called elite to start getting into the political space so we can practise the ideals we are always championing on social media. I doubt many of you can live upto what you purport.
So, Hon. Among, if it means tripling the salaries, do so. I hope that will be good enough to get Ugandans angry enough to re-organise the political space.
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