Edward Ssekandi, the Vice President and Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of Parliament receive benefits of a retired speaker and deputy speaker respectively despite receiving full entitlements in their new capacities, a highly placed source in parliament has intimated to sources.
The parliamentary pensions (amendment) Act 2011 provides that both the retired speaker and deputy are entitled to 60 percent of the salary of a sitting speaker, a four wheel chauffeured car with cubic liter capacity of 3500-4000, two security guards, two domestic staff, medical insurance for self and spouse or spouses and 33 currency points per month for utilities.
Ssekandi and Kadaga served as speaker and deputy speaker respectively in the Eighth parliament. However, after the expiry of the term of the eighth parliament Ssekandi was appointed vice president and Kadaga was elected full speaker. According to the source, the issue of the double payment was raised in one the parliamentary commission meetings, the officials argued that the law which entitles them to the benefits does not bar them from accessing them once they serve government in other capacities.
However, City Lawyer Caleb Alaka disagrees saying this is corruption at its peak adding that it is exploitation of tax payers. According to Alaka in as much as the law is silent, it is illegal for one person to draw two salaries or benefits from the same fund. He argues that both Kadaga and Ssekandi get enough benefits as Vice President and Speaker so there is no reason for them to get double benefits. Alaka says that it is a matter to take to the constitutional court for interpretation and that the law should be amended if need be.
Fred Mukasa Mbidde, a legislator in East African Legislative Assembly says this is a criminal matter and not constitutional. He argues that parliamentary pensions (amendment) Act 2011 is erroneous and against the accounting principles of Uganda.
Mbidde insists that no one is entitled to pension when they are still serving. The decision by government to pay out benefits to Ssekandi and Kadaga is likely to raise suspicion. It comes only a few months after Professor Gilbert Bukenya, the former vice president accused government of withholding his benefits as former vice president.
Some officials claimed that Bukenya was not entitled to the benefits since he is serving and an MP and should not be drawing two types of benefits from the consolidated fund. However, Sezi Mbaguta, the minister of state for public service insisted that Bukenya receives his full benefits. Both Ssekandi and Kadaga have not yet commented on the issue of the benefits as they couldn’t be reached by our reporter.