- Updated by Faith Barbara Namagembe at 1009 EAT on Thursday 18th May 2022.
Parliament has found itself in a catch-22 after a section of legislators complained about deductions of Shs 1 million off their salaries as contributions to the Jacob Oulanyah Education Trust Fund.
The fund was set up two months ago in memory of the former speaker of parliament Jacob Oulanyah. It was intended to educate the former speaker’s children and those who depended on him. During his send-off in April, it was said that Oulanyah was taking care of more than 100 children at various levels of education.
Chief justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo who championed the fund then said that the education of the children would be possible if the love shown by the grief of Ugandans is converted into a financial contribution to the Education Trust Fund and that the dreams of Oulanyah’s children and their pursuit of education will continue as if Oulanyah was still alive.
A resolution was then passed for every MP and ex-official member to contribute Shs 1 million towards the fund translating into a contribution of Shs 554 million from the institution that Oulanyah presided over before his death. The deductions were effected last month from the salary of each legislator.
But a week ago, reports emerged that a section of MPs was furious about the deductions. Initial reports quoted Bugabula South MP Maurice Kibalya and Nakawa East MP Ronald Balimwezo saying that there should not be collective responsibility in contributing to the fund because a number of them did not consent to the resolution.
On Tuesday Among questioned the sentiments saying that the deductions were based on a resolution of parliament and threatened to refund money for all legislators who felt offended by the act.
“It was an agreed position but you find members talking like they have removed Shs 10 billion from them and I want to tell you members Oulanyah used to be like you and you will be like Oulanyah. The rules that we have created in this house should remain. Why would you complain about the Shs 1 million and those who are not happy with the Shs 1 million kindly register your names, register your name and bring it to my office and I will pay you cash, and I will raise it in the house that these are the people who have refunded their money,” she said.
Aswa County MP Simon Peter Wokorach said that his colleagues are not only complaining on social media, but also in corridors of parliament and at radio stations where they are hosted. He supported the idea of refunding money to those who are displeased with the deductions.
However, Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa emphasized that the resolution made by parliament was binding to all its members and advised that those displeased with the deductions from their salary should move a motion seeking to rescind the resolution.
“The issue I raise is procedural, there is a resolution of this house and that resolution is binding on us. If parliament makes a resolution there is a procedure of turning around that resolution. I think anybody who’s uncomfortable with that resolution, I would advise that unless that resolution is rescind by this house, it still stands. Those of us who weren’t in the house that day and participated in that resolution are aware that we did resolve in that manner. For me I would only advise Rt Hon speaker that the discomfort and even your guidance of people to register and come the best approach would be that people come back to the house through a substantive motion seeking to rescind that motion,” said Basalirwa.
Oulanyah died in a hospital in Seattle, USA on March 20, 2022, after serving less than 10 months in office. He was laid to rest at his ancestral home in the Omoro district on Friday, April 8.