Each of the 529 MPs received US$56,500 to buy a new car, which sparked outrage in this poor country.
Uganda this week provided parliamentarians (MPs) with nearly $30 million to buy new cars, which has sparked outrage in a poor country that has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
At the time of the surge in COVID-19 cases, each of the 529 lawmakers received 200 million shillings (US$56,500) to purchase new cars.
On June 18, President Yoweri Museveni announced restrictions on movement and closed schools, churches and bars for at least six weeks.
“It is unacceptable for the government to buy luxury goods for small groups in the parliament. They continue to earn more than 30 million shillings (about 8,000 US dollars) a month, and more people cannot support themselves,” said Anet Nana Namata . Active human rights defender and executive director of the Uganda League of Human Rights Defenders.
The average monthly salary of a manual worker is approximately US$28, while a teacher’s salary is US$75.
The head of the National NGO Forum, Moses Isoba, added: “This behavior is shameful when the government appeals to private citizens to donate money to purchase the COVID-19 vaccine.”
He said the money could be used to “distribute to the most vulnerable 500,000 people”.
In the face of growing public outrage, government spokesman Ofwono Opondo defended the decision, saying it was in line with a long-standing tradition.
“This is to promote their contact with voters. In any case, civil society organizations have always been part of the budget process, and for a long time, members of Congress have known that they need to spend money on cars,” he said.
In 2018, a similar move triggered protests, and militants stormed the parliament before being dispersed.
Uganda is a country with a population of 45 million and has recorded 91,710 COVID-19 cases and 2,496 deaths.
So far, only about 1 million people have been vaccinated.