At least four MPs from the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and two other Independent but opposition-leaning MPs are among the latest recipients of President Yoweri Museveni’s Shs 40 million cash donations.
The opposition legislators – two from Northern Uganda, one from Teso and another from Western Uganda were part of a group NRM MPs who opposed the lifting of the Constitutional presidential age limits but later sought Museveni’s pardon.
MPs Barnabas Tinkasimire (Buyaga West), Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga ), Patrick Nsamba OShabe (Kassanda North), John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya), Sam Lyomoki (Workers), Monica Amoding (Kumi Woman), Louis Mbwatekamwa Gaffa (Kasambya), Sylvia Rwabogo (Kabarole Woman), Silvia Akello (Otuke Woman), Maurice Henry Kibalya (Bugabula South), Johnson Muyanja Ssenyonga (Mukono South), and Felix Okot Ogong (Dokolo) voted against the 2017 age limit amendment.
Others were, James Kaberuka (Kiinkizi West), CD Lowila Oketayot (Pader Woman), Suzan Amero (Amuria Woman), Denis Sabiiti (Rubanda West), Evelyn Chemtai (Bukwo Woman), Richard Gafabusa (Bwamba), Alex Ruhunda (Fort Portal Municipality), Justine Khainza (Bududa Woman), Helen Kahunde(Kiryandongo Woman), Robert Migadde Ndugwa (Buvuma Islands), Anthony Ssemuli (Mubende Municipality) and Sarah Nakawunde Temulanda (Mpigi Woman).
Of these, 18 sought Museveni’s pardon and were re-admitted into NRM activities.
To their shock however, when Museveni last week released Shs 40 million to each of the 317 MPs that supported the age limit amendment, this group was left out.
The ‘age limit MPs’ were given Shs 40 million for them to refund the Shs 20 million Covid-19 cash, and also to clear an old debt Museveni owed the MPs.
Led by Gafabusa, the group mobilized and met Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, to plead for Museveni’s bailout.
“I think Museveni has taken this fight to unnecessary levels. For how long will he punish us? Surely, at this time, with an election in sight, he should be working towards bringing us together than pushing us further away,” Ssemuli told this writer on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, outside the Clerk of Parliament’s office.
Ssemuli poured out his heart to whoever cared, probably because the Clerk’s office had declined to grant him an extension of the deadline within which MPs are required to refund or account for the Shs 20 million they received as facilitation for their individual Covid-19 activities.
“Here, they have told me that if I distributed items in the Constituency, I should bring accountability. But then, Museveni said that we are not purchasing officers – it’s tricky,” Ssemuli said.
According to a source close to Nankabirwa’s office, a day later, this group of MPs was called to receive the bailout from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) building where Nankabirwa has another office.
Several MPs that we spoke to said that they hadn’t received any payments from Nankabirwa although they confirmed having been mobilized by Gafabusa.
“What I have heard is that some opposition MPs were given but anyone in our group,” an MP who preferred not to be named said.
Chief Opposition Whip, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda said that although he had no knowledge about the payments, it can’t surprise him that some of his FDC colleagues picked the money.
“I have no knowledge that there are some Opposition MPs who received the Shs 40 million but if there is any who did, I will not be surprised because there are those who are double-faced. You work with them, but, they also make themselves available for money,” Ssemujju said.
“There is no reason why they don’t join Museveni and loot together,” Ssemujju added.
The developments happened as a group of NRM MPs that included the parliamentary caucus spokesperson, Margaret Muhanga, Bonny Okello (Kole North), Keefa Kiwanuka (Kiboga East) and the caucus’ vice-chairman Solomon Silwany continued to deny at press conferences that they received any payments from their party leader.