MPs to get cash to consult on age limit bill

Wednesday October 04 2017

Left to right: Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa, Burahya County MP Margaret Muhanga, Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana, and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda chat shortly after addressing the media in Kampala on Wednesday. PHOTO BY ALEX ESAGALA

Parliament- An unspecified sum of money will be given to Members of Parliament to facilitate their consultation with constituents on Constitution Amendment Bill 2017, which seeks to scrap the lower and upper age limit for presidential candidates.
Following the first reading of the Bill moved by MP Raphael Magyezi (Igara West, NRM) and its subsequent referral to the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for scrutiny on Tuesday, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga asked the MPs to consult with the electorate.
Coming hot on the heels of these developments, Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa now says the Parliamentary Commission is considering a budget to facilitate the MPs.

“The Parliamentary Commission is working out a budget because it is Parliament which is going to facilitate all of us…We shall be informed on how much each MP will get to go and consult because we need logistics,” Ms Nankabirwa told the media, also addressed by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, yesterday.
But Ms Nankabirwa did not disclose details of the budget, saying the Parliamentary Commission will determine the amount required.

However, Ms Robinah Nabbanja (Kakumiro, NRM), who is also a Parliamentary commissioner, told this newspaper that all MPs will be given the facilitation, irrespective of their political affiliation.
“We are going to meet soon and agree. I cannot give you a figure right now, because we have not agreed. You cannot send MPs [for consultation] without some little facilitation,” Ms Nabbanja said.
On where the money will come from since it has not been provided for in the current budget, Ms Nabbanja said foreign travels will suffer cuts.
“The moment something is urgent, we normally touch on foreign travels, we can always reallocate within our budget,” she said.
However, Opposition Chief Whip Ibrahim Ssemujju dismissed the facilitation, describing it as attempts to “sanitise bribery of Members of Parliament”.
He said the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has not considered such a budget.

“I sit on the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; we have never considered any budget on such issues,” Mr Ssemujju said.
Parliament’s director of communication and public affairs Chris Obore said the facilitation is meant to make the legislation “participatory”.
“The Speaker ruled that the people should be involved and the commission has to look for money because the Speaker wants the amendment to be a participatory process,” Mr Obore said.

Govt denies grenade attacks
At the same news conference, Dr Rugunda distanced government from claims that it was responsible for the grenade attacks on some Opposition MPs’ homes.
“Government is not involved in throwing weaponry and grenades at these houses,” he said.
The PM said the National Resistance Army did not use assassination of opponents as a bush war tactic and its political arm [NRM] could not now resort to attacking the MPs’ homes.
The Premier also declared government’s support for the move to amend Article 102(b) of the Constitution to lift the upper presidential age limit.