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By Mulengera Reporters

President Museveni has vowed to use his renewed mandate as head of state to constrain MPs from earning a lot of money in salary, travel and other allowances (yet they don’t do any productive work). In a Saturday speech in which he bashed the elites accusing them of treachery, Gen Museveni said continuing to allow legislators to earn a lot of money for doing nothing had distorted the economy for too long and now was the time to “stop being polite” and stop them in order to serve the broader public interest.

That he has always been uncomfortable with too much money the legislators have wastefully been earning but he kept quiet because “many of them were my supporters.” Museveni said he would, as a matter of priority, take all the newly elected MPs to Kyankwanzi and sensitize them on the dangers of continuing to distort the economy by paying themselves generously while majority of the ordinary people are languishing in extreme poverty.

The man from Rwakitura said he will be explaining to the MPs and persuading them to let go of their generous pay so that the money saved (hundreds of billions) can be used to intensify citizens’ access to high quality but free education and health services. Seemingly determined to address bread and butter issues which he believes aggrieved citizens especially in Buganda to vote against him, Gen Museveni vowed to  urgently revive the railway network to ease transport-related constraints for both cargo and passenger purposes.

He also vowed to use the next five years to expand OWC operations so that more citizens (in millions) are supported and elevated to overcome poverty. He also spoke of the need to free up hundreds of billions that will be saved from remunerating the extortionist elites in Parliament and elsewhere in government so that youth-empowering programs like YLP are funded more. The idea is to enable the youths to have sufficient access to cheap capital to engage in some gainful economic activities especially agricultural-related.

The President Elect also vowed to act ruthlessly against the elite who use their government connections, positions and offices to compromise the judiciary to go unpunished for evicting and depriving the poor of their land (Kibanja holders). He said the Land Fund operations would be strengthened to ensure there is balance between the competing interests of Bibanja owners and Mailo-owning landlords.

Gen Museveni also vowed to crush all those involved in religious and ethnic sectarianism while trying to use the same as a tool for political mobilization. NRM leaders and Ministers who fail to offer clear leadership for the poor peasants out of poverty and economic destitution will equally not be tolerated, Museveni furiously stressed. He also hopes that the financial burdens on MPs will be diminished once there is better quality services available through public schools and hospitals. Many come to MPs seeking contributions to pay medical bills or even school fees and Gen Museveni hopes that funding hospitals better will improve service delivery and thereby take the burden off the MPs’ shoulders. He also intends to free up billions and use the same cash to pay teachers and medics better while availing more functional equipment for the public schools and hospitals. He says now is the time to work for the majority Ugandans and not the parasitic elite few (this includes MPs).

Because, as an institution, Parliament is generally unpopular with the population, Gen Museveni rightly believes that squeezing them financially by cutting their pay will appease the general public and increase his political popularity. He will be killing many birds with one stone because, besides the resultant political popularity, the same financing restrictions would deprive the NUP (which has won 61 MPs in a House of 502 legislators) of access to significant financial resources to oil their mobilization machinery. Look at it this way; the combined opposition has no less than 112 MPs in the 11th Parliament comprising of 502 legislators.

Assuming each one of them earns an average of Shs30m per month from holding the office of MP, the 112 opposition legislators will be sharing Shs3.360bn per month. This is something that naturally must be discomforting to Gen Museveni who is used to a financially-struggling opposition. Yes it’s true his NRM with 313 MPs would be pocketing much more but in Gen Museveni’s calculus the opposition shouldn’t have anything. Only NRM should be financially okay and Shs3.360bn going to the combined 112 opposition MPs every month for 5 years (or 60 months) is something which must be too frightening for the General from Kyamatte to even ponder. That is why using his influence to ensure MPs’ remuneration is cut across board becomes an option to counter the political gains his opponents made during the Thursday 14th January elections. Actually, it’s possible the pay cut could be uniformly imposed affecting all MPs but NRM, being the ruling party, can find some way to offer monthly top ups for its members through Kyaddondo. And source? They will tell you “we are the ruling party; we have many domestic donors and sources beyond the Parliamentary salary and it’s our right to facilitate our MP to do mobilization work.”

While thanking Ugandans for reelecting him while ignoring manipulation by foreigners, Museveni used his Saturday address to assert that he has always been opposed to MPs having leeway to keep increasing their pay at the expense of the rest of the country adding that now was the time for gloves to come off. He recalled late last year when MPs sat to pass a motion condemning him as a bad President merely because he opposed their arbitrary act of allocating themselves money to participate in anti-COVID19 mobilization.

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