Shame on Uganda’s MPs

What you need to know:

  • Corruption is a dangerous moral virus like Covid-19; it causes poverty, ignorance and disease on a humongous scale.  

Events in Uganda never cease to amaze, disappoint and offend in almost equal measure. While having one cold beer for the road at a posh pub in Arua City, a friend brought to my attention a story published in Saturday Vision of June 4 titled, ‘MPs allocate extra Shs193b for their pay rise.’

According to the story, on May 20, Uganda’s greedy, shameless and unpatriotic Members of Parliament (MPs) re-allocated Shs1.6 trillion from the 2022/2023 national budget, out of which they allocated Shs193 billion to cater for a generous pay rise for themselves; the funds are earmarked to increase their hefty salaries and allowances.

Against the background of rapidly rising prices of all commodities and dire economic conditions facing most Ugandans, it’s frankly incredible, indefensible, outrageous and unacceptable that MPs who are already grossly overpaid for little work done would rob poor Ugandans who elected them only last year. Thousands of Ugandans, especially children, are starving or have died of hunger and malnutrition in the Karamoja sub-region.

I am reminded of what angry, disgusted and disgruntled young men and women did in Burkina Faso on October 31, 2014, when they burnt down the parliament of that West African country following the overthrow of ex- president Blaise Compaore. 

If the debate in social media about what MPs have done is any guide, I fear history could repeat itself in Uganda unless our MPs wake up and do what is right and proper as elected representatives of the people.
Wananchi are grateful to patriotic, but unnamed sources from the ministry of Finance who exposed this outrage to the media.

What MPs did on May 20 is nothing new. It’s part and parcel of a rotten regime in which endemic and systemic corruption on a massive scale is condoned and practised with impunity. According to the IGG, about 30 per cent of Uganda’s budget is stolen every year by politicians, senior public servants and their accomplices which in hard cash is a staggering Shs20 trillion!

What drives MPs and Uganda’s political elite to engage in immoral, criminal, shameful and unethical behaviour? Why is the minister of Ethics and Integrity and the Directorate he heads powerless, spineless, toothless and unable to do anything constructive and useful to stop the scourge of corruption in Uganda?
It’s the love of money which is the primary cause of endemic and systemic corruption on a massive scale in Uganda.

In a country where politics has been commercialised and where politics is the most lucrative business in town, money is the means for those who wish to become MPs and hold other elected positions, including the position of president of Uganda. The unwritten rule is, “No money, No vote.” 

As Scripture teaches, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1st Timothy 6: 10 (NIV)
Corruption is a polite word for theft which is evil, a sin and a gross violation of the 8th commandment of God which reads: “You shall not steal.” Exodus 20: 15 (RSV). It’s a disgrace and a tragedy of monumental proportions that a God-fearing country like Uganda whose national motto is, “For God and my Country,” is according to Transparency International one of most corrupt countries in Africa and the world. What a disgrace!

Corruption is a dangerous moral virus like Covid-19; it causes poverty, ignorance and disease on a humongous scale. Corruption is daylight robbery of national resources which belong to all citizens of Uganda. 

Parliament and government worth its name should never condone or practise corruption, but instead protect Ugandans from corrupt, greedy and morally decadent people who masquerade as political leaders.

 Mr Acemah is a political scientist and retired career diplomat. 

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