10 July 2012

Uganda: Ssemujju Nganda - You and I Have to Pay for Museveni's Extravagance

It is around this time of the year that Parliament receives lists of financial allocations to various government departments.

Each ministry/sector submits what is called a policy statement. This explains how money allocated to a department in the previous year was spent and pleads for new allocations.

These policy statements are many and bulky, the reason many MPs don't read them at all. Some just scan through to see if there are any benefits for their constituents.

Today I will concentrate on the Presidency which comprises State House and Office of the President. There are two innovations to the policy statements, which will help us understand and analyse how much of taxpayers' money we spend on His Excellency the President/NRM Chairman, Gen Yoweri Museveni.

One of the innovations is that each department/ministry must submit a list of its employees. The second innovation is that you must break down the amount of money allocated to you.

Almost every department is listing the number of employees and their names except the presidency. When you read Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi's policy statement, a list of names of people he is working with is given. The Prime Minister's office employs a total of 233 people.

Why are State House and the President's Office hiding names of people they employ? This is a matter I will raise in Parliament when debate on this matter begins.

The Office of the President currently employs 620 people. Its target is 965 employees.

There are 39 presidential advisors, 17 senior presidential advisors and 23 special presidential assistants. These advise the big man on all sorts of things, including the rearing of chicken.

Mind you, a senior presidential advisor is paid like a cabinet minister. He/she is entitled to a brand new Land Cruiser with a driver and escort. We must pay for his fuel and maintain his vehicle.

Interestingly, Gen David Sejusa is also listed as a senior presidential advisor/coordinator of ISO and ESO. Sejusa, formerly Tinyefuza, receives a salary as a Member of Parliament but also as an advisor.

State House, which is the residence of Mr Museveni, currently has 773 employees, all paid by the taxpayer. Some of these individuals are responsible for the welfare of the big man. For example, he employs 39 waitresses, six dhobis, six chefs and eight cooks in addition to 10 people in the catering section.

Probably all these 148 are necessary, but what about the six senior presidential advisors, eight special presidential assistants and eight senior private secretaries in State House? In total, both State House and President's Office employ 1,393 employees.

This year Museveni's office has been allocated Shs 56bn and his residence Shs 63bn, a total of 119bn. Museveni will spend Shs 13bn on inland travel and 3.8bn on trips abroad.

The welfare and entertainment of the big man will cost us Shs 3.1bn, classified expenditure 6bn, special meals and drinks 1.3bn and maintenance of vehicles 3.5bn. This, in simple terms, means we spend Shs 326m on Museveni's residence and office everyday.

And now that we know how much we spend on the presidency, we need to calculate the benefits. Unfortunately, every theft of public resources, at least according to reports that have been tabled in Parliament, is facilitated by the presidency.

For example, the messing up of the national information and security system, commonly known as the IDs project, has been facilitated by the presidency. The deal was hatched in State House by the dubious people who 'ate' taxpayers' money.

It is this lack of focus that makes Museveni the most expensive president, not only that Uganda has ever had, but also in the region. The man has created all sorts of departments under his office and residence through which our money is being siphoned.

He now has a 'manifesto directorate' as if he had a personal manifesto. A manifesto is supposed to be translated into policies and programmes that are initiated by cabinet, approved by Parliament and are monitored.

Each government ministry has several technical people facilitated to originate or help fine-tune politicians' ideas into policy. Why is Museveni then duplicating the whole government into his own residence and office?

That is what he has also done with the military. He has his own army commanded by his son, now called Special Forces Group. I didn't include his guards on the list of employees.

With them included, it is possible Museveni employs 10,000 people. No wonder the development budget of every sector has been cut by about 70% because we must provide money for the well-being of the big man and his family.

The author is Kyadondo East MP.

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