KAMPALA – Legislators on Wednesday, 31 March 2021 adopted a motion to authorise the payment of emoluments and benefits to former Members of the Presidential Commission.
The former Members of the Presidential Commission who included, Hon. Yoweri Hunter Wacha-Olwol, Justice Saulo Musoke and Justice Polycarp Nyamuchoncho, now all deceased, were the Titular Heads of State of Uganda between May to December 1980.
They were was appointed after President Godfrey Binaisa was toppled by the Military Commission of Paulo Muwanga and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the current President.
Presenting the motion, Hon. Fred Turyamuhweza (FDC, Rujumbura County) said that, in 20l0, Parliament enacted the Emoluments and Benefits of the President, Vice President and Prime Minister Act, which, under section 29, provided for the continued application of section 3 of the Parliament (Remuneration of Members) Act, Cap. 259 to Presidents and Vice Presidents who ceased to hold office before the commencement of the 1995 Constitution.
Turyamuhweza, reading from the report said the former Members of the Presidential Commission held the Office of President of Uganda and are entitled to the benefits enumerated under the Parliament (Remuneration of Members) Act, Cap. 259 through a resolution of Parliament each financial year.
“The three were accenting to the laws passed by the National Consultative Council (NCC). Since one person could not do it alone, they decided to incorporate the three brains two from the highest courts in Uganda then, to lead Uganda,” he added.
However, the State Minister for Public Service, Hon. David Karubanga, said that the law on the remuneration of the President, Vice President and Prime Minister did not cater for the past leaders and the money which had already been advanced was the ex gratia.
“President Yoweri Museveni gave a directive through Cabinet to Public Service to make sure that all those past leaders are given an ex gratia payment and I would like to report that most of the former presidents have received their Shs 1 billion ex gratia and the three members of the Presidential Commission all shared the 1 billion each getting Shs 303 million. They all died and so I do not think we shall be catering for them after receiving an ex gratia payment,” Karubanga said.
Hon. Jonathan Odur (UPC, Erute County South), argued that the leaders did serve the country and they needed to be treated like former leaders.
“The three leaders provided leadership to this country, they have families even though they are deceased. Our constitution provides for gratuity, pension to public officers that have served this country, they lead the country and lead to the elections of 1980. It is not in dispute that the three the presidential leaders mentored a leader that is leading us today. It is, therefore, in order that they receive what is due to them,” Odur said.
The Otuke County, Hon. Julius Acon, said that, government should be in position to provide more funds to the large families that these past leaders have.
“In Uganda, we are blessed with large families and children. They could be having over 15 children the money is very little and they all need a share. The Shs 300 million given to them is too little compared to what they did for the country,” he said.
The National Workers Representative, Hon. Charles Bakkabulindi, was concerned that Members of the Presidential Commission were paid just a partial small sum.
“The Presidents should be treated equally and they should not have just a third of their rightful pay. The ministry should see to it that they are paid. They were all Presidents in their own right and so why should they be given just a third of what they worked for? Were they not Presidents too?” Bakkabulindi asked.
However, the state finance minister, Hon. David Bahati, said that there was need to introduce an amendment in the law to sort these issues once and for all.
“When this motion was last passed, the budget had already been passed and the ministry did not have finances to comply and pay. There is need to amend the Act so that the ministry can have proper planning. Some former Speakers have also approached me and hinted that they were neglected by the law and they too should be considered. Amending the law will enable us to sort it out once and for all rather than basing on motions all the time,” Bahati said.
The Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, who chaired the House directed the Minister of Public Service to present his statement on the matter on Thursday, 1 April 2021.
“Produce the law, but it will take a while as this Parliament is coming to an end. Nonetheless, bring your statement – but we have adopted the motion,” she said.