There was a standoff in parliament after legislators on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee Tuesday clashed with former Rubaga MP Ken Lukyamuzi the man over the 29 million Shillings given to MPs to carry out consultations on the proposed removal of presidential age limits from the Constitution.
Un amused legislators were turned off by Conservative Party-CP President Lukyamuzi’s submission who accused them of being bribed to appropriately amend the Constitution.
“The Bill has been facilitated with funds drawn from the Consolidated Fund without formal Parliamentary approval,” Lukyamuzi said.
The former hilarious legislator had appeared along with other opposition political party leaders; Democratic Party (DP) President Norbert Mao and DP Vice President Fred Mukasa Mbidde to present their position on the proposed amendments tabled by Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi, which seeks to among others amend Article 102 (b) of the constitution by removing the 75-year age limit on persons intending to contest for the presidency.
If amended, we could see President Yoweri Museveni eligible to contest for another term of office. At 73, Museveni would be ineligible to contest for the presidency in 2021, when his current term ends.
Now, the unapologetic Lukyamuzi said that the state doesn’t have to bribe MPs to amend any provision of the constitution, a statement that brought proceedings to a standstill.
Lukyamuzi was supported by Opposition Whip Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda and Kumi Woman MP Monica Amoding while others led by the Committee Chairperson Jacob Oboth-Oboth demanded that he withdraws his statement. Oboth-Oboth said the money was rightly given to them by the Parliamentary Commission.
“We should guard ourselves against these bribery allegations that money from parliament is a bribe. Money was appropriated by parliament and if there was a re-allocation, you should only question whether this was done in law,” said Committee Chairperson Jacob Oboth-Oboth.
Bwamba County MP Richard Gafabusa added that money, which was announced by the Government Chief Whip and given in proper channels, cannot be labeled a bribe.
“If that allegation is not withdrawn, Chairperson I beg to excuse myself from this meeting,” said Gafabusa.
Similarly, Mwenge South MP Aston Kajara and Kaberamaido County MP Veronica Eragu said that they find it difficult to listen to his views without withdrawing the accusation that they were bribed.
However, Opposition Whip Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda said there was no need for withdrawing a statement of fact. Nganda said that the committee should only interest itself in investigating the matter since the money provided to MPs was not appropriated by parliament.
When asked to clarify his statement, Lukyamuzi still maintained that the money was a bribe since it was never appropriated by parliament. He was backed by DP President Norbert Mao saying that it was an opinion describing a bribe as an inducement intended to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust.
On October 23, Parliament released 29 million Shillings for each Member of Parliament to help them consult on the proposed ‘Age Limit’ Bill. A total of 13 billion Shillings was released to cater for consultations on the proposed constitutional amendment to repeal Article 102(b).
However, twelve MPs have so far returned the money to parliament’s Finance Office describing it as a bribe. These also argued that they are provided monthly facilitation for consultations and that they do not need special funds to carry out their duty.
This is not the first time MPs are provided special money for consultation on different matters. In 2013, a section of MPs returned the five million Shillings that was given to each legislator to consult on the Marriage and Divorce Bill 2009.
This was after President Yoweri Museveni directed the Clerk to Parliament to facilitate MPs to ease their movement in the constituencies as they consulted on the Bill. With a total of 386 MPs then, the government spent 1.9 billion Shillings on the process.
In 2011, also another section of legislators returned 20 million Shillings which had been released to help them monitor NAADS programs in their constituencies.
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