Being a member of parliament is one status everybody would wish to achieve.
Indeed it is a lucrative venture given the fact that there are many freebies that members get ranging from free cash, gifts among others.
That however, doesn’t mean that legislators are all equal. It takes a wise person to achieve that status and utilize it well because not all are actually doing well!
There are some who actually go without lunch while others are being hunted like wild animals by money lenders due to accumulated debts.
One important thing is that not much is known about how legislators survive given such circumstances of being broke.
In this briefing, we reveal the top tricks broke legislators employ in order to survive in this dusty city of ours
This is common among several broke legislators. Here, what a member does is to ensure that he or she frequents more than two parliamentary committees.
When she or he reaches there, the member ensures that he or she consumes as many eats and drinks as possible which will compensate for lunch.
When one visits a parliamentary committee sitting, sometimes you may mistake it for a cocktail or Samosa crashing committee given the way some participants behave.
In fact, a few days ago, scribes were shocked after bumping into one of the gorgeous brown female legislators from western Uganda who stormed a committee room after a meeting and started packing eats in her bag.
The committee is located on ground floor.
Parliamentary plenary usually sits at 2pm.
Lunch at parliament is served at 1pm. What some members do when time for canteen comes, choose to go and lock themselves in their offices.
In their offices, when their colleagues call them for lunch, they claim that they have meetings in their offices.
In the process, they dodge lunch under the guise of meetings in their offices.
HIDING IN OFFICES
This habit is basically for legislators who are dangerously indebted.
What they do is to lock themselves in their offices from morning to 11pm.
The whole game is meant to avoid being arrested by their creditors.
Snoops tell us that one male legislator from Busoga actually at one moment slept in his office for fear of being arrested by money lenders.
He then ordered for his clothes which were delivered on a boda boda and he bathed from the parliamentary gym.
Another member lost his coat to money lenders who trailed him but when they tried to net him, he rushed and stepped on parliament soil where cops saved him from being arrested.
TASTELESS FOOD SYDROME
These days, there are basically two canteens serving members. One is located at prime minister’s office and another at parliament.
Those without cash have since exploited this to their advantage. What they do is to pretend that they have gone to the house canteen to serve food.
However, because they know they don’t have dime, they simply peep into the food and claim the food is tasteless.
They thus tell their pals that they have gone to dine from the prime minister yet they are simply running away from paying for food!
FAKING PHONE CALLS
This is most common among female legislators! It is a common practice which most of them use to dodge lunch.
The same trick is used by members to dodge parliamentary committee work.
What members do is to come to a committee, place their bags there and ‘books’.
Such books are usually parliamentary documents like policy statements which of course they attach no value to!
When they enter the committee, sit in for a few minutes, ask for the attendance register, sign and then employ their game of faking phone calls.
They definitely leave their ‘books’ behind on the table to hoodwink other members but carry along with them their handbags as they move out to ‘answer calls’.
Eventually they don’t come back! This is the same thing they do in the canteen. They fake calls and vanish without eating lunch.
Others do this upon seeing a suspected voter because they fear to part with some coins.
The most culpable members on this habit are from Buganda.
Here, it is basically common when a member gets a strange phone call! If a member doesn’t leave the phone to ring endlessly, he or she will fake her voice or claim network problem!
Usually, the member after picking the call will start rubbing the phone onto his or her head and claims that he or she is moving.
“Hullo, hullo, I can’t hear you. I am moving. Network is bad. Call me later,” the MP says!
But to do this, the member after picking the call, first keeps quiet for some seconds before answering ‘hullo’. This is meant to enable the MP know who is calling and for what reason.
These days, the voters call members for burials and other community issues but immediately after speaking, tell the member that ‘my number is registered on mobile money honorable’.
Therefore, upon knowing this trick by voters, members also coin ways of how to dodge them!
This is mostly done by Buganda MPs, Busoga and those of West Nile.
VISITING MINISTERS DURING LUNCH HOUR
Three ministers were a few days ago overheard gossiping about four legislators.
The ministers’ furry is that it has now become a habit for some members to fix appointments with ministers during lunch hours.
As a result, ministers also find it difficult to eat food on time because they can’t eat when their ‘visitors’ are yawning.
This therefore means a minister has to either eat early lunch or late lunch or risk paying extra fees for lunch.
Here, a member ensures that he or she visits a given ministry during lunch time where they in the process eat lunch but of course after inconveniencing ministers!
Anyone intending to hold a workshop but doesn’t have who to invite, just run through the parliamentary membership.
You will definitely not fail to get a given number you want. However, there is a vocabulary among some members called ‘peak hours’.
The pick hours are in respect to signing for sitting allowances and lunch time.
In fact, one NGO working on children issues recently informed one of the parliamentary forums that it had blacklisted some members because they are fond of turning up during lunch time or allowance time and even when they sit in, they don’t contribute to the debates.
This list includes two legislators from Buganda, four from Busoga, one from western and two from north.
These ‘workshop’ members even keep more than one coupon because they keep alerting their colleagues to come for ‘meetings’ in a given hotel.
Actually, in one of the meetings organized by office of the Chief Whip at Imperial Royale for parliamentary scribes, one of the female legislators stormed the meeting and asked; “is it open to members of parliament?” She was embarrassingly turned away
Hhhmmmmm, this is now serious. There are members who will never attend prayers during morning hours but only during lunch time.
Usually, parliament chaplain holds prayers in the members lounge.
However, some members are seen going to that place during lunch time.
And even when the prayers end, you can never see them visiting the house canteen.
To them, the word of God is their ultimate food.
GAMBLING FOR CABINET JOBS
Upon realizing that ministers earn extra dimes in their respective dockets, several members also want to be appointed ministers.
But sometimes, the president takes long to recognize them yet their appetite for ministerial jobs is very high.
The only strategy therefore for them to get there is to pay bribes.
However, not all of them have succeeded. In the process of bribing ‘intelligence boys’ in order to get appointed, they have incurred debts and also lost even the little they had to these ISO con stars!
In fact, one male legislator lost his shs103m cash meant for buying cars to these smart boys who promised to see him through the vetting list.
Another flamboyant member from Busoga also recently parted with shs40m which he gave to the boys in search of a cabinet job but he lost out.
Therefore, these gamblers remain financially drained and cannot afford paying for their lunch.
Sometimes when things get tough, the tough legislators get going.
But how do they do this? It is simple! Pretend to be a loaded fella.
Have your meals in posh hotels and usually cruise energetic cars! This is enough to make your colleagues believe that you are loaded extra!
Therefore, after convincing everyone about your status, start making ‘small bailouts’. This is what some members do to their pals.
Some keep going to car dealers who hire them posh cars for a month and give them another.
When the member comes to parliament, his pals will think he or she is loaded since he or she changes cars like dresses.
But waapi! It is a strategy. This is common among classy members who do this to their colleagues and they end up taking their little cash with a promise of refund of this ‘pocket change’!
They usually say ‘honorable buy me lunch I will refund. I have foreign currency only’.