No politician will benefit from commercialisation of politics except President Museveni
By Muhimbise George
Ugandan MPs faced backlash and criticism from the public following the deposit of 200 million on their accounts.
They were accused of being greedy, selfish and inconsiderate especially since they got this money in the middle of a pandemic.
Government chose to deposit this money in the middle of a pandemic and even publicize it not only as a deliberate effort to blackmail MPs before their voters but also to divert public attention from the promised relief money that largely didn’t reach the intended beneficiaries.
This meant that instead of the country demanding for accountability of the relief “Nabbanja” money or even demand for expansion of the programme, the population now turned to their MPs demanding for lockdown food relief help.
Government makes several releases in a financial year it doesn’t publicize each like the MPs money? How can a government that failed to account for Ugandans’ COVID-19 donations claim to be so transparent to the extent of publicizing money sent to MPs?
MPs including those from opposition found themselves between a rock and a hard place, because, on one hand they claim to be patriotic and yet on the other hand, they readily accept cash that could have been utilised on pertinent priorities aimed at combating the dreaded disease affecting their voters!
However, am certain that even with this bad publicity, majority of the MPs would prefer this cash than the physical cars because many of them are highly indebted.
So with the backlash and accusations, MPs find themselves having to accept this money even when it appears to be a spear that pierces their sword and finally kills their political career!
But how did we get to this stage? Gen Museveni has commercialized politics to the extent that every Church Bishop in Uganda drives a car donated by Museveni.
He has donated money on fundraisings where he is called to officiate, moved with brown envelopes, created projects and programme under his office etc.
So as a result political leaders have been looked at as donors instead of servants or leaders to guide citizens on developmental issues. The voters don’t differentiate a President from an MP, if a President can donate a car, an MP should donate a motorcycle, yet unlike the President who has a budget of trillions, MPs have to use their own emoluments.
When you switch on radio announcements, an MP is invited by about five people daily to attend their functions especially burials. RDCs, CAOs, DEOs and other public servants are never invited.
The MPs are expected to attend birth day parties, baby showers, weddings and all other social gatherings. They are expected to construct bridges, schools, roads, churches etc. they are also expected to pay loans, medical bills, school fees for the poor.
So by end of the day an MP is a walking ATM machine or mobile bank. If MPs fail to do these things to the community their opponents start de-campaigning them immediately.
This is also exacerbated by failure by government to deliver services leaving MPs as the only representatives of government who are forced to do government work which unfortunately is unsustainable!
So in the end, MPs are highly vulnerable that they are susceptible to manipulation by whoever has money. That’s why they fight to be on the so called “juicy committees” especially accountability committees. This is done in anticipation of getting bribes from corrupt public servants and the President in order to pass controversial laws.
So as a result of commercialization of politics, many competent people who may not have money are locked out of politics, experienced ones voted out while the vocal ones are compromised. The challenges at Parliament are replicated in local councils hence compromising the quality of politics in the country.
Its only Museveni who has a huge budget that can sustain commercial politics since he has the money to give opposition politicians, Members of Parliament, voters and some individual opinion leaders from the general public.
Muhimbise George, email@example.com, 0787836515.
The author is a member of the Alliance for National Transformation Publicity Committee.