Love of money will kill our Parliament

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By Editorial

Posted  Saturday, December 14  2013 at  02:00

The Igbo of Nigeria say a disease that will kill a man starts as an appetite. In many ways, the same can be said about Uganda’s Legislature, whose members seem to have an insatiable appetite, not for food, but for money.

Twice this week, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has ordered a probe into allegations that some legislators may have taken money to shoot down a parliamentary committee report recommending the termination of power distributor Umeme’s contract, and others to support and expedite the passing of the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill 2012.

There is no proof yet that any legislator has indeed taken money as alleged but the mere fact that allegations persist of MPs taking money to support or oppose proposals in Parliament is a pointer to serious failing in our leadership institutions.

And these allegations are not without precedent. Many members of the Seventh Parliament – especially those leaning to the ruling NRM party – each received Shs5 million to pass the controversial constitutional amendment removing term limits to the presidency. They also took Shs20 million allegedly for monitoring Naads programmes ahead of the 2011 general elections and more recently, Shs5 million ostensibly to consult on the Marriage and Divorce Bill. In reality, the money was to soften them towards a position the Executive desired.

In light of all this, the country needs to ask itself some hard questions. What kind of people deserve to be elected to national leadership positions? What should be the place of money in politics and leadership? Is it poverty of morals or poverty of resources that is fuelling this unbridled love for money by our politicians? What sanction should be placed on those who sell out rather than support positions on the basis of some principle?

There are no easy answers to all these questions and perhaps no solutions in the near future to this political depravity. What is beyond doubt is that the disease that will kill a country and its leaders begins as an insatiable love for money. Then the leaders will sell the country to highest bidder!