Ugandan elites run after rabbits leaving elephants in the room

Mr Odongo Lango.

By Odongo Lango

I have a few friends who are Members of Parliament. Through them, I became privy to the reasoning behind each of them getting shs20m. 

The government had budgeted for food relief for only residents of Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso districts. The MPs from upcountry protested. They said, and rightly so — “come on, the whole country is affected by food shortages” – “how can we only support Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso?”

People are desperately asking for help from MPs.

Secondly, my other reasoning is that that’s not a fair way of distributing the national cake – by only supporting Wakiso and Kampala. However, the government didn’t have capacity to distribute food across the country.  

The Parliamentary Commission in their wisdom decided to give a kitty of shs20 million to each MP. This is to support them to buy some food for their constituencies. 

You could argue that the shs10 billion should be allocated for the health response. 

Fine point, but remember food is a big part of health, especially for vulnerable people living with HIV/AIDs, TB and the elderly. Recall, too, that Uganda now has only 23 active COVID-19 cases in care.

The Parliament has allocated over shs120 billion to the Ministry of Health. That’s a lot of money, without counting the donations pouring in from the private sector. 

The problem with us, the elites, is that we’re not good chess players. We don’t see the long-term game. It makes us lose sight of the elephants and run after the rabbits. 

We react like some old man in my village when watching football. He will be kicking anyone standing in front of him while imitating the football players in the field.  This hurts people for nothing without scoring the goals.

The writer is an NRM member who hails from Minakulu sub-county, Oyam district.

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