26 February 2013

Uganda: FDC Against 'Free Ipads' for MPs

The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has welcomed the plan by the Government to buy the latest version of iPads for MPs, but said the tablet computers should be loaned to the legislators.

Party spokesperson Wafula Oguttu, who is also an MP, said the proposal to buy iPads for the legislators is a welcome move, but they should not be given to them free of charge unless they are government property.

The Government plans to give the legislators iPads to reduce the cost of stationery and encourage them to embrace e-governance at a cost of sh1b.

The decision was taken recently by the Parliamentary Commission and is only awaiting implementation by the contracts committee.

Emmanuel Dombo, a parliamentary commissioner, recently told journalists that the iPads would be treated as the property of the individual legislators.

But Wafula said although sh1b is not a lot of money, it should not be spent on legislators because they will treat the iPads as their own property.

He added that some of the MPs already have these tablet computers.

Oguttu also said the party was optimistic about the constitutional and electoral reforms that have been presented to parliament because many political players, including those in the governing party, are in support of them.

Among the reforms that were not fully implemented in the run-up to the 2011 general elections, Wafula said, include the composition of the electoral commission and barring candidates with election-related crimes from standing for political office.

Others were the parliamentary representation of the political parties with a bigger percentage of the national vote, removal of the army from the house and affirmative action for public servants.

Oguttu said they want the reforms to be agreed upon before the end of the year so that country has two years of their implementation before elections in 2016.

Oguttu, who was flanked by local party leaders, said the truth and reconciliation commission, that was formed to look into the alleged election malpractices during the voting of the party president, was conducting investigations.

He added that the accused individuals are expected to appear before the panel today.

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