The August House Speaker, Rt Hon. Annet Anita Among, seems to be afflicted by a fear of the unknown or a person of double standards, as seen by her persistent suppression of House members from debating over the recently revealed extravagant expenditures by numerous House leaders just two years of her tenure.

Under the hashtag ‘#Uganda Parliament Exhibition,’ an online revelation has come to light exposing numerous previously hidden lavish spending. One of the startling revelations was that the previous opposition leader, Mathias Mpuuga, received a large service reward of Sh500 million from the members of the Parliamentary Commission.

The large budget allocation for parliamentary spending has come under intense public scrutiny, raising concerns about the transparency and accountability of the procedures. As more information about these extravagant expenditures is revealed, the public is demanding greater monitoring and accountability within the corridors of power.

The government’s monthly expenditure of Shs100 million on the Speaker was also made public by the leaked material, which also highlighted the extravagant spending practices of those in positions of authority. Furthermore, the documents disclosed that an enormous amount exceeding Shs130 million was set aside for the procurement of the Speaker’s attire.

Moreover, comprehensive documents disclosed exorbitantly costly travel schedules for the Speaker, generating concerns over the distribution of taxpayer’s cash. As these disclosures gain attention, they heighten worries about Uganda’s political system’s accountability and economic stewardship.

Opposition politicians like Mpuuga, whose names were implicated in this scandal, have faced repercussions from their party, the National Unity Platform. Despite the legal framework in Parliament allowing him to retain his position, Mpuuga according to his party is nolonger their commissioner and was replaced by Mityana Municipality legislator Francis Zaake.

Additionally, the party also stripped him of his role as deputy to the party president in the Buganda Region. These actions underscore the political fallout and internal consequences that accompany involvement in such controversies, highlighting the party’s stance on accountability and integrity within its ranks.

NUP, currently the foremost opposition political party, also went on to take a proactive stance on the issue of extravagant spending within the House and its leadership. Led by the current Leader of the Opposition, Joel Bisekezzi Ssenyonyi, NUP spearheaded a motion to prompt debate on the online revelations.

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Ssenyonyi’s initiative garnered support from Theodore Ssekikubo, the lawmaker representing Lwemiyaga, further emphasizing the bipartisan concern over the matter. As pressure mounts for accountability, NUP’s advocacy signalled a concerted effort to address public concerns and uphold transparency within Uganda’s political sphere.

Nevertheless, the Speaker of the House and some lawmakers summarily rejected their appeal, considering it to be unimportant. Using a previous example in which she oversaw the enactment of the Anti-Gay Bill, the Speaker implied that the accusations were just made up by her opponents. She called them baseless. Many saw this as a scapegoat tactic to avoid responsibility for the extravagant spending revelations and as the Speaker’s obvious attempt to divert attention from the real problem.

This Thursday, Ssekikubo attempted once more to refocus the House’s attention on the issue of extravagant spending by Parliament leaders. Still, the Speaker, supported by other members, attacked the information sources once more.

When it comes to urgent topics, the Speaker made it clear that the Honourable House would not engage in conversations centred around social media. This was the third time that Parliament whose role is to oversight government spending has frankly displayed that when it comes to scrutinizing it’s self it very hard!

Display of double standards  

The Speaker implied in her defence that social media was not a reliable source of information for parliamentary discussion. This claim, however, is at odds with the reality of the modern world, where social media frequently provides Parliament with essential information for deliberation. Social media has constantly given Parliament insightful information and conversation points in the connected digital age.

Moreover, the Speaker’s position is contradicted by a relevant incident from February 2022. She ordered Francis Zaake, the MP for Mityana municipality who was also a Parliamentary Backbench Commissioner, to go before the Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Discipline due to accusations of misbehaviour and misconduct while she was the Deputy Speaker.

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This episode emphasizes how the Speaker has acknowledged social media in the past as a driving force behind parliamentary action, highlighting the contradiction in her views about the platform’s value as a source of information.

Zaake faced accusations of using offensive language in a social media post where he expressed his discontent with the Deputy Speaker’s remarks concerning his alleged torture.

In a “X” post, Zaake referred to the Deputy Speaker as a “dishonest person” lacking “intelligential prowess.”

Subsequently, Zaake was expelled from the Parliamentary Commission bench. However, it’s noteworthy that the evidence used against him originated from social media – a fact that now contradicts the Speaker’s dismissal of social media as a source of innuendos. This apparent discrepancy underscores the inconsistency in the Speaker’s treatment of information from social media platforms.

Furthermore, Parliament acted just a year ago after the deplorable state of Kampala’s roads was brought to light by an internet campaign called the Kampala Pothole Exhibition. Following a call for ministers to address the issues, money was set aside to support the Kampala Capital City Authority’s efforts to maintain the roads.

Several topics brought up on social media have made it onto the parliamentary agenda without the Speaker categorically rejecting them as either false information or untrue. But in regards to the revelations made by the Uganda Parliament Exhibition, they appear to be dismissed as mere fabrications. This striking disparity begs the question of whether this is an example of discrimination or if fear of the unknown is at play.

The Speaker’s treatment of material obtained from social media platforms is inconsistent and opaque in light of these discrepancies, which invites conjecture about her intents and reasons for ignoring some revelations while recognizing others.

The post Double Standards or Fear of the Unknown? Why Does the Speaker Dodge Debate on Lavish Spending? appeared first on Watchdog Uganda.


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