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M7 GIVES POA, MAO, AKENA & BASALIRWA SHS500M EACH TO FUND THEIR LAST MINUTE CAMPAIGNING ACTIVITIES

By Mulengera Reporters

In a letter to IPOD, Finance Minister Matia Kasaijja (acting on the President’s express instructions) directed JEEMA President Asuman Basalirwa to follow up with the Electoral Commission to ensure the electoral body writes a requisition to access Shs2.5bn available at the national treasury to be equally shared by the 5 political parties having representation in Parliament.

Kasaija was categorical that, unlike on previous occasions when NRM would take a larger fraction of the money simply because it has the highest number of MPs (293 followed by FDC’s 36 & DP’s 15), this latest release of Shs2.5bn must be shared equally implying JEEMA, NRM, FDC, DP & UPC must each be given Shs500m. It’s a great windfall for Asuman Basalirwa’s JEEMA which has only one legislator in the House, no Presidential Candidate and not very many Parliamentary Candidates.

It simply means JEEMA Secretary General Mohammed Kateregga, who is one of the few Candidates the Party has, is going to be well facilitated and therefore hard to overcome in Bukomansimbi North where he is competing for the MP Seat with two NRM candidates namely Idi Lubyayi Kisiki and Ruth Katushabe. The same applies to Basalirwa in Bugiri Municipality.

Patrick Ochailap, who deputizes PSST Keith Muhakanizi, says in the FY2020/21, the political parties in Parliament were, under the IPOD arrangement, allocated a total of Shs20bn to be shared in a period of 12 months. He explains they have so far received Shs17.5bn implying the remaining Shs2.5bn will be released to them in the next quarter April-July 2021. Kasaijja insisted on equal sharing of the Shs2.5bn in order to comply with the Parliamentary directive, preceded by Asuman Basalirwa’s complaint accusing the EC and the Finance Ministry of violating or breaching Section 14(b) of the Political Parties & Organizations Act which requires the state to give equal campaign financing to all parties during the general campaigns similar to what we are currently having.

This being the election year, Kasaijja (who is already unopposed as Buyanja County MP) has insisted the EC must share the Shs2.5bn equally while disregarding the numerical strength formula. Kasaijja’s directive to the EC has since been reinforced by the Accountant General Lawrence Semakula’s letter imploring the EC to act very fast and requisition for the money so that the recipient political parties have no reason not to expend the cash on the intended objective (which is facilitating their candidates for the 2021 race).

Frank Rusa, the IPOD CEO, says that releasing the entire Shs5bn remaining for the FY2020/21 would have made a huge difference since all the parties are financially constrained regarding campaign financing. He says sharing the money equally is the way to go because NRM taking a lion’s share had previously caused disharmony among the IPOD member parties.

Officially, the leaders of the recipient opposition parties are grateful that Kasaijja insisted on equal sharing though FDC’s Semujju Nganda says there is no favor being done to any of the parties because this money is legally allocated to all the parties with a presence in Parliament. He says the government deliberately delayed the release of the money in order to constrain their campaign activities and candidates’ sponsorship which it was meant or intended to fund. That majority of the parties had to borrow money at the start of the campaigning period and will now have to use the Shs500m allocated to each one of them to pay back with accumulated interest.  (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at mulengera2040@gmail.com).

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