By Mbabazi Hanning Gonzaga
There is no better replay of the “Affair of the Diamond Necklace” as it happened under the French Bourbon Monarchy than what has transpired in the halls of the Ugandan parliament these last two weeks.
During the reign of Louis XV between 1784 – 1785, he offered to have the most expensive Diamond Necklace worth 2 Million Livres (about US$ 20 Million today) made for his concubine Madam Du Barry but at a time when his subjects were starving and dying of the smallpox virus (unfortunately he died of smallpox before giving the necklace to his concubine).
The son, Louis XVI went on to become the next king, but in tow, was another extravagart queen that would ask the subjects to eat cake — “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, a type of bread made of eggs and butter when these peasants didn’t have any bread.
We have a war! A pandemic! An alarming situation where Ugandans are now eating less than one meal a day to defeat this Corona Enemy. And then comes a parliament devoid of any sense of humility to join forces with the masses in the war but rather taking away even the little that they are left with.
There is no worse misery than finding the population on its knees as a result of the dwindling economy hit by the ravaging Coronavirus, while the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament is leading the chorus to get a supplementary budget ploughed through but earmarking a minimum bonus of US$ 6,000 per Member of Parliament (475 in number).
Yes, the speaker has orchestrated a move to channel a whopping 10 billion Ugandan Shillings or US$ 2.7 Million of the tax payers’ money to go feed the already satisfied heartless legislators on cake and meat, while sending bags of posho and beans full of stones to the wanaichi, so far Kampala and Wakiso have indeed tested the stones.
There was a genuine cause for Parliament to pass a supplementary budget that would slow down the economic downturn as well as help government to full equip itself to fight this war against the obscure but lethal enemy – coronavirus.
Without a sounding defence against coronavirus, it is undeniable that there would be a long-term repercussions on the social service and national security systems of the country, an impact that would affect each and every citizen for generations.
It thus leaves one to wonder, how heartless can our legislative arm be to sneak into the well intentioned budget a whole Ten (10) billion that is for nothing but entertainment in the times of war, when solidarity and sacrifice is all the country needs. Indeed, Kadaga is telling Ugandans to go eat cake when there is absolute hunger.
If things have gone this bad, (which is the case because parliamentary oversight has gone to the dogs), then voters need to ask for a real change in Parliament for patriotic and intellectually upright cadres starting from the Speaker herself.
It is a hard task get the voters aware of the power they wield in their voting rights, but when voting comes, this is now the time to begin ticking the right boxes in line with changing the status quo in the August House for the better.
The more, our voting pattern relies on the silver coins received, the more we build complacency in the August House that breeds notoriety and familiarity when it comes to misuse of our taxes at the expense of very important budget items that seek to develop and protect the country as a whole.
Warren Buffet famously noted that “it’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked” and indeed this coronavirus has exposed the parliamentary butts for all Ugandans to see the sharks that we have been swimming with.
It is not a coincidence that counter-oversight agencies have for ages been left to run business on crumbs and patriotism as these well-funded MPs continue to amass the billions of the tax payers funds.
When shall we countercheck these excesses to make Uganda a better country? Time and again, budgetary requests for crucial services are being thrown out by the various committees of this August House, without the scrutiny or input that is deserved of an MP, leaving any sane Ugandan doubting the purpose as to why we are having a blotted, selfish and hugely ignorant parliament in the name of democracy – rule of the people, by the people, for the people.
In the end, a question remains lingering because sanity has to prevail, is Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, guiding her house to represent the views of the people?