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Outrage as Ugandan MPs approve $30m to buy cars amid COVID crisis

Many Ugandans have been thrown into a state of shock as the country’s Members of Parliament approved nearly $30m to buy new cars, at a time the country’s cases of Coronavirus surges. The over 529 Lawmakers would receive 200 million shillings ($56,500) each for the new vehicles.

Human rights activist and the executive director of the Union of Human Rights Defenders Uganda, Anet Nana Namata bemoans the decision taken by the lawmakers. According to her, it is not prudent for the government to spend such huge amount of money on cars for parliamentarian cars at a time the country is in serious crisis.

She argued further that, “It is unacceptable for a government to buy luxuries to a small group in parliament, who continue to receive monthly pay of more than 30 million shillings (about $8,000) while the larger population are unable to feed themselves”.

Public outrage in Uganda as MPs offered €5k coronavirus cash each
Ugandan Parliament Kampala on September 27, 2017. | AFP – CHARLOTTE COSSET

The  leader of the National NGO Forum, Moses Isooba also stated that  “this act is shameful at a time the government is appealing to private citizens to contribute money to buy the COVID-19 vaccine.”

He noted that the Government could have distributed the money “to the most vulnerable 500,000 persons” in the country than to spend it on the minority few.

Despite the huge public outcry, government spokesman Ofwono Opondo defended the decision as being in line with a time-honored tradition.

“It is to facilitate their engagement with the electorate. In any case, the civil society organizations have been part of the budgeting processes and knew long time the MPs were to get money to buy cars,” he said.

In 2018, a similar move was met with series of protests with activists storming parliament before being dispersed.

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