How NUP MPs plan to spend Shs200m car cash

Leader of Opposition Mathias Mpuuga flanked by residents arrives at Kamwokya, a Kampala surburb where he donated some items following a fire outbreak last week that killed two and destroyed lots of property. PHOTO / ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • The party leadership says some of the money will be  used to finance grassroots projects in their  MPs’ respective constituencies

National Unity Platform (NUP) party  has agreed to spend part of the Shs200m that government has given to each legislator to buy cars  on party activities.
The party leaders say the money can only be used more meaningfully to develop the infant party through  channelling some of it  to grassroots projects in their respective constituencies. 

Each of the NUP legislators will have to contribute Shs10m towards the party secretariat and another Shs1m monthly subscription to the party. 
The party leaders say this money will facilitate the ongoing fundraising drive towards securing a party headquarters. 

Every NUP MP will also be required to initiate a development project in their constituency using part of the car cash, but they do not specify how much one should spend on these projects that include healthcare, agriculture, education, and youth development. 
They have also been advised to use part of the money to buy modest cars to help them run constituency duties depending on the terrain of their areas and how far they move from Kampala.

Agreement 
Mr John Baptist Nambeshe, the acting party president, who also doubles as the Opposition chief whip, told Sunday Monitor that they are implementing an agreement arrived at in April during their retreat in Jinja District. 
“We are working on this, not as a directive, but what we have already agreed on. Different constituencies grapple with different challenges and we expect that the area MP will be able to identify the challenges and direct some of this money towards that,” Mr Nambeshe said. 
He, however, did not mention the target of their fundraising and how much they hope to raise for securing the party premises. 

With 59 MPs representing NUP party in Parliament, this means the party secretariat will receive Shs590m, with each MP contributing Shs10m.  
Early this week, news of that government had dished out Shs200m to each legislator to buy a car coincided with the government appeal for citizens, corporations, and investors to pool money for buying vaccines to fight Covid-19. 

This sparked off public uproar as it emerged that taxpayers would have to part with a huge Shs105b for the 529 lawmakers in the middle of a ravaging pandemic with a shortage of vaccines for the public. 
Uganda has to-date not bought a single dose of vaccine from its own resources, nearly 16 months after registering the index Covid-19 case, a disease that by yesterday had cumulatively killed 2,483 out of 91,355 infected persons in the country.

On Friday, NUP party released a statement indicating that they had agreed that the Shs200m from the government to the MPs for the cars, at a time when the country is grappling with Covid19 lockdown restrictions, would not be taken back to the Consolidated Fund but would be used to develop their constituencies. 

“While we know that MPs need vehicles to travel to and from their constituencies, NUP believes that MPs are some of the most well-paid public servants who can afford to buy vehicles for themselves. In our manifesto, we made proposals on how to tackle nugatory public expenditure so as to prioritise the welfare of our people,” the party statement reads in part. 

Other plans
Mr Derrick Nyeko, the Makindye East MP, said his constituents have struggled with evacuation during the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and he will use Shs140m to buy an ambulance for his electorate, send Shs10m to the party secretariat and use the balance to get relief aid for his voters.
 
“This is something we all agreed on and we shall choose to apportion the money as per the needs in every constituency. We cannot go on squandering public resources at a time like this because it won’t picture us well in the eyes of the public,” he said.
On June 18, President Museveni imposed a 42-day lockdown which will be ending on Thursday, but he hinged the full opening on the immunisation of at least 4.4 Ugandans. 
But Uganda has so far only received about 175,200 doses of vaccines from the French government through Covax.

Mr Medard Ssegona, the Busiro East MP, told Sunday Monitor that as the government grapples with the entire problem of making sure most Ugandans are vaccinated, they would render a helping hand to the constituents to survive. 
“We know there is need out there, our rechannelling of the cash for cars does not come in as a directive but as the ongoing solution-oriented leadership that NUP has always been talking about. We shall give help where we can and let the government do the rest,” Mr Ssegona said in a telephone interview. 

Asked to clarify in which spirit this money has been diverted from the MPs accounts to a project whose vision is not clear, Mr Nambeshe said, “You don’t ask why a Christian goes to church and worships fervently God they have never seen or met. There is belief in our party young as it is, that it needs to grow.”


What they say
“We know there is need out there, our rechannelling of the cash for cars does not come in as a directive but as the ongoing solution-oriented leadership that NUP has always been talking about. We shall give help where we can and let the government do the rest,” Mr Medard Ssegona, the Busiro East MP.
‘‘We are working on this, not as a directive, but what we have already agreed on. Different constituencies grapple with different challenges and we expect that the area MP will be able to identify the challenges and direct some of this money towards that,” Mr John Baptist Nambeshe, the acting party president.

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