Wafula Oguttu, the leader of opposition in Parliament, and Joseph Ssewungu, the Democratic Party chief whip, have appealed to opposition MPs to reject the Shs 10m offered by the government chief whip’s office to every MP who attended three sessions on the 23 new districts last month.
The two opposition leaders separately told The Observer by telephone on Friday that it would be wrong for opposition MPs to take the money, with Ssewungu saying MPs are supposed to be paid by the Parliamentary Commission.
“I don’t expect any DP member to take such money, but all [DP MPs] I have talked to, told me that they have not seen that money. After all, we opposed those new districts.”
During the vote in Parliament, 196 MPs including opposition voted in favor of the creation of new districts. Six voted against, while only three abstained.
Oguttu in a short message service, SMS, said, “It’s [an] omission [to take such money] because our employer is the Parliamentary Commission.”
NRM insiders say Ruth Nankabirwa, the government chief whip, approached the president for the money. The money, according to insiders, is payment for the three sittings in which MPs recalled from recess, approved the new districts.
Chris Obore, the director of communication and public relations at Parliament, confirmed at the weekend that the money is being given to all MPs who took part in the three consecutive sittings regardless of their political affiliations.
Since last Thursday, a sizable number of MPs out of the 205 who participated in the debate that culminated into passage of the 23 new districts frequented the government chief whip’s office to pick the Shs 10m.
It should be noted that Nankabirwa had a hard time raising the requisite quorum of at least 189 MPs to approve the new districts, which will be operationalised in a phased manner in the next four fiscal years.
Districts to become operational on July 1, 2016 include Kagadi, Kakumiro, Omoro and Rubanda, whereas Namisindwa, Pakwach, Butebo, Rukiga, Kyotera and Bunyangabo will become operational on July 1, 2017.
On July 1, 2018, Nabilatuk, Bugweri, Kasanda, Kwania, Kapelebyong, and Kikuube will become operational, followed by Obongi, Kazo, Rwampara, Kitagwenda, Madi-Okollo, Karenga and Kilaki on or by July, 1, 2019.