Was the 20 million Covid-19 pay to MPs justified?
By Dr. Byakatonda Abdulhu
It was considered that all the benefiting MPs be incorporated within the respective District COVID-19 task forces as members and those representing special interest groups like Workers MP, National Female Youth MP, PWD was to be absorbed in the Nations task forces where the interventions will be coordinated.
These funds were advanced by the Parliamentary Commission for interventions meant to support the National response to COVID-19 in their respective districts. The shillings 20 million was for each Member of Parliament, also each district in the country was given a total of Shs163m. The office of the President issued guidelines on how to spend the funds disbursed to the district and depending on the priorities but may include medical consumables, detergents, protection gear, etc. In any case all benefiting entities/individuals were to make accountability following the guidelines on COVID-19 pandemic.
Where the MPs deemed it fit, the other school of thought was for the MPs to send food via mobile money to their constituents. This money has over the time generated a lot of debate in a number of circles of society, Civil Society Organisations, etc to the extent that some Member of Parliament namely Gerald Karuhanga of Ntungamo Municipality and Jothan Odur of Erute South filed a case against Parliamentary Commission and the Attorney General.
The Civil Division of the High Court granted a temporary injunction on the use of the money. However the key issue was if the money was arising out of the supplementary budget of 304 billion, why was there a debate on the Uganda Shillings 10 billion to the MPs?. All the above and the 20 million would not be the issue because the intentions and purpose was for the common good of the people. The key issues would then be what the truth? Is it beneficial to all the intended beneficiaries and many other considerations. However, the key issue here is based on society orientations. Over the years, the ideology of capitalism, neo- liberal approaches guide the economic dimensions; there by influencing people’s life attitudes, especially in regard to their behavior as individuals/units, neglect of status as individual/members of society is a key parameter.
The concentration should not be on material amassment which creates serious problems and failure in the belief system, collapse of the collective structure of social co-existence. This is because we are living in times that individualism prevails where the cherished norm is, ’I’ instead of ‘We’. So in so doing, despite the good objects, they merely become fictional qualities of social relationships, lack of sustained trust. This consideration therefore follows that even in a number of Public Theories, when apportioning public values, there is tendency of beginning with the self, the immediate family before the others.
In conclusion, there is need to review and cause change to our mindset while in service, where we become selfless and in so doing the confidence of the communities/masses will be rejuvenated and the served people will build trust in the system, become participants and identify themselves with the collective as opposed to cheap popularity■
Dr. Byakatonda Abdulhu
NATIONAL TRUSTEE- UGANDA SCIENTISTS, RESEARCHERS AND ALLIED WORKERS’ UNION
Aspiring Workers MP 2021