37 members of parliament with pending election petitions in the Court of Appeal are pushing for the release of their vehicle cash. The MPs have petitioned the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga demanding the release of their money. Each MP in the 10th parliament is entitled to Shillings 150 million for the purchase of a vehicle to facilitate their movement in the constituency. On October 11, 2016, parliament disbursed Shillings 43.2 billion to the law makers to procure vehicles.
Each MP received Shillings 100 million on their personal bank accounts. Earlier on, the Parliamentary Commission resolved not to disburse money to all legislators with election petitions until they are cleared by court to avoid cases where parliament is forced to release more cash once such a legislator is kicked out by court and replaced by another person. However, in their January 12, 2017 petition to the speaker, the petitioners demand for the release of their vehicle cash.
“We the under signed members of the 10th Parliament of Uganda, hereby log in a petition to your attention and the entire Parliamentary Commission over a matter of failure to transfer funds for purchase of vehicles as duly assigned”, reads the petition seen by URN. Adding that, “It’s also clear that half of the Members of Parliament who still have pending court appeals have been paid.”
They also claim that ex officials who are already provided for by their sector dockets and do not represent any constituency have been paid the vehicle money. They question the criteria used to pay out the vehicle cash. “Rt Hon Speaker, it should be noted among members who lost their cases at High Court and now in Court of Appeal; some have been paid whereas others have, the same applies to that won cases at high court and were appealed against. Therefore we are puzzled on the criterion of selection”, they said.
Peter Ogwang, the Usuk County Member of parliament who also doubles as Parliamentary Commissioner, says parliament used different approaches to arrive at, which MP receives the vehicle cash first. “We began with the new MPs following alphabetical order because some of the new MPs were facing transport challenges. The other MPs will also be catered for because the money is available”, Ogwang said.
He also confirmed that some of the MPs facing election petitions have received the vehicle. They asked the Speaker to authorize the transfer of funds meant for purchase of vehicles to their respective accounts so as to enable them acquire the vehicles like any other member of the 10th parliament. “We pray that you resist any attempts by any authority wishing to detract you from effecting these payments as this has direct bearing on the performance of the 10th parliament and precedent for future challenges against any member of parliament,” they said.
Chris Obore, the Director of Communication and Public Relations in Parliament, told URN that the Parliamentary Commission halted the payment following public complaints. “Some few MPs with petitions had earlier received cash as was the case with the previous Parliaments. But their payment elicited complaints forcing the Commission to review the matter. The Commission will examine the petition of unpaid MPs with Court cases and make a decision”, Obore said.
He confirmed that two or three MPs with election petitions have received the vehicle money. Patrick Okabe, the Serere County MP is one of the legislators battling a petition in Soroti High Court for alleged lack of academic papers. “We can’t wait forever for the court cases to be disposed of yet we are still having the mandate of our people who badly need us to serve them. How do they expect us to travel to our constituencies?” he said.