Speaker Anita Annet Among has received praise for bankrolling Muslim Members of Parliament to perform pilgrimage trips to Mecca, using ‘own money’.
Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa made the revelation during a visit to Parliament by the Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Shaban Ramathan Mubajje, per Parliament Watch.
In Uganda, MPs are the highest paid politicians earning on average UGX30m a month.
The decision by Speaker Among to splash money on already well-paid individuals to undertake a spiritual journey, which benefits only themselves, has raised eyebrows among members of the public.
Some in the public claim that Among uses such finding to ‘bribe’ and influence the MPs.
It may also be that the Speaker has a soft spot for Muslims because she is married to a Muslim and fellow MP Moses Magogo.
But whatever the case, the source of her funding is a matter of concern for many.
Many have pointed to the possibility that Among is using the huge budget allocated from the consolidated fund (taxpayers money) her office to splash on MPs.
In the new financial year budget 2023/2024, the Speaker’s office was allocated a mind-boggling UGX13.1 billion.
Part of the Speaker’s extravagances includes UGX5.3bn for travel abroad, UGX1.34b for inland travel, and UGX 2.4bn for donations.
Speaker Among was also allocated UGX 547m for welfare and entertainment, UGX143m for clothing and footwear.
This kind of budgeting that keeps a blind eye to essential services to the public and gifts politicians is one of the evils of political corruption in Uganda, which erodes taxpayers money for individual selfish interests of politicians.
For example, the general public is denied access to health care because government failed to find money for intern doctors who perform the bulk of the work in government health centres.
The government has also suspended the the loan scheme for privately funded students in universities this year for lack of money.
But the president directed Ministry of Finance to provide UGX89bn to give to Sudhir to finish his Munyonyo resort in time for the Non-aligned summit set for Jan 2024.