By Max Patrick Ocaido
PARLIAMENT. Members of Parliament (MPs) are divided over President Yoweri Museveni’s new security directive to have each legislator given escort vehicles and army “sharp shooters.”
On Wednesday, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told MPs in the House that President Museveni had written to Finance Minister Matia Kasaija directing him to immediately avail money to acquire a fleet of new 4 wheel-drive pick-ups with open carriage beds for each MP.
According to the letter dated June 29, 2018, Museveni says that on top of having police guards, each MP will be given an additional element of sharp shooters from the army and follow up pickups that will be used by these sharp shooters.
“The pickups will be protected, in simple ways, against small arms bullets. I can assure you, they will not be interesting targets for terrorists using kalashinikovs (AK74s). The sharp shooters, themselves should get personal body armour and helmets that are bullet resistant and even the police guards should also get body protection,” Museveni said.
However, whereas a section of MPs have welcomed the presidential directive, some MPs especially members of the opposition have rejected the move saying it will strain the country’s budget further.
“This business of securing members of parliament when the public is not is not good. It is like some people are more citizens than others,” Francis Mwijukye (Buhweju County) said.
NRM’s Alex Byarugaba (Isingiro South) welcomed the move on condition that it doesn’t blow the country’s meagre budget.
Thomas Tayebwa, Ruhinda North County said that the cost of buying 456 MPs pickups is not a priority for now saying that the issue of insecurity is not alarming.
“The cost of buying around 500 pickups for MPs and maintaining them is excessive and if that money is given to police to improve security all over the country then it could be better for all us,” NRM’s Tayebwa said.
He added, “The president cites out the recent prominent killings to justify the security, but how many MPs have been killed? It is only Abiriga. How many muslim clerics have been killed? It’s only about 5. Let us just empower police to improve general security for all Ugandans,” Tayebwa said.
SECURITY IS UNSHAKEABLE
In his letter to finance minister, Museveni reaffirmed that the security of Uganda is firm even if MPs have been singled out for intimidation and possible attacks.
“I have, therefore, decided to protect the Members of Parliament as we wait the putting in place of these systems,” he said.
On June 20, Museveni in his address to Parliament listed a 10-points strategy that among them include fingerprinting all guns in circulation that government is set to embark on to fight criminality in the country.
The other strategies include; mandatory installation of electronic number plates on all motor vehicles and boda bodas at the expense of the owner, banning of hooded jackets for riders and provision of illuminated helmets with numbers printed on the front and back.
The other strategies include; installation of cameras in the highways and towns and streets and installation of a modern forensic laboratory which will capture the palm prints and DNA of the criminals.