ENTEBBE. President Museveni has granted a request by political parties seeking government to increase funding to them from Shs10b to Shs35b annually.
The money is meant to cover the political parties’ administrative costs at both national and district offices.
The President ordered Finance minister Matia Kasaija to find the extra Shs25b, which should be included in the Budget for the 2019/20 financial year, which begins in July.
The increased funding was one of the resolutions reached during closed-door proceedings of the Interparty Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) Summit at State House Entebbe on Monday.
The IPOD Summit comprises five political parties, which have representation in Parliament. They are the ruling NRM, the Democratic Party (DP), Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC), Justice Forum (JEEMA) and the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).
The State House summit on Monday was attended by the NRM chairperson, Mr Museveni, DP president-general Norbert Mao, UPC president James Akena, and Mr Muhammad Kibirige Mayanja, who represented Jeema party president Asuman Basalirwa. FDC boycotted the dialogue.
Sources in the closed-door summit revealed to Daily Monitor that when the agenda of financing political parties was read out by Mr Mao, Mr Museveni showed no objection but disagreed with the IPOD Council on how the money should be spent.
Sources said the President opposed the plan to allocate 20 per cent of the money to the IPOD Secretariat and share the balance equally among the parties.
Sources said Mr Museveni instead guided that 40 per cent be used on administration of parties, including paying salaries of staff, 15 per cent goes to IPOD and the rest be spent on running parties’ activities.
The Shs35b will be shared by political parties in accordance with their respective numerical strength in Parliament.
Mr Kasaija, who was in attendance, reportedly told the President that “it could not be possible” to have the money in the new financial year budget because allocations had already been completed.
However, sources said Mr Museveni ordered the minister to find the money by whatever means to avoid conflicts in the parties that might breed violence.
“The minister of Finance was crying ‘there is no money’ but after the President ordered him to find the money, he said ‘let me go and look around’,” a source said.
During the summit, Mr Museveni reportedly also agreed to the proposal to amend the Public Order Management Act (POMA), which the Opposition said is being used by police to block their meetings.
The political parties were concerned about Section 5 of the Act, which provides that the Inspector General of Police shall be notified about a public meeting or gathering by anyone or political group organising such a meeting at least three days before or not more than 15 days before the proposed date.
Museveni on Bobi, Besigye
Sources said much as the President agreed to the proposed amendments tabled in Parliament for approval, he insisted that former FDC presidential candidate Kizza Besigye and Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, will still be blocked by police from traversing the country because they do not have the legitimacy to carry out national mobilisation of the masses.
Sources said the President argued that Dr Besigye and Mr Bobi Wine do not have “legitimate positions” in political parties. He said Dr Besigye does not occupy any defined position in the FDC hierarchy whereas Mr Bobi Wine is an MP whose operation should be restricted to his constituency.
“What is their identity? We are discussing political party issues. If you are a party president or secretary general you should not be blocked from mobilisation,” the President reportedly said.
He was responding to a concern by Mr Mayanja on why Bobi Wine and Dr Besigye were being blocked by police from meeting the people.
Mr Museveni reportedly said Secretaries General should be allowed to do mobilisation for their respective political parties countrywide.
However, the President’s justification for blocking Dr Besigye and Bobi Wine does not explain why the police have been blocking rallies and meetings organised by Mr Patrick Amuriat Oboi, who is the FDC president.
In his speech after the IPOD summit, Mr Mayanja said he was not satisfied with the President’s explanation about the security agencies blocking Bobi Wine’s music concerts.
What people power, FDC say
Ms Ingrid Turinawe yesterday said there is no way Dr Besigye, an FDC card holder, can be barred from being deployed by his party president to move around the country on any errand. “Mr Museveni should know that Dr Besigye is a Ugandan who won the 2016 elections but he overthrew him by sending him to prison. We will not allow Mr Museveni to tell us who should be deployed and who should not,” she said.
The spokesperson of Bobi Wine’s People Power political pressure group, Mr Joel Ssenyonyi, described the President’s stance as someone fearing politicians who do not have identity. “Our President always fumbles with matters of law. Now, which law was he quoting here? If Hon Kyagulanyi has no political identity, why is he so scared of him?” he said.