As opposition politicians and a section of the public continue to criticize the recent directive by the President to procure new pick-ups meant to provide security for each of the over 400 MPs, Finance Minister has said “other alternatives” are being considered.
Last week, a June 29 directive was presented to Parliament in which President Yoweri Museveni directed the Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija to immediately avail funds for purchasing a fleet of four-wheel-drive pick-ups with open carriage beds for security personnel guarding the legislators.
The directive followed a closed door meeting on June 20 held between the President and Members of Parliament to particularly discuss the state of security within the country and what can be done to reduce criminality. The MPs told the President that they faced a number of security threats.
In his letter, the President informed Kasaija that part of the discussion in the said meeting was the string of assassinations that have occurred over the last 6 years.
Museveni directed that each legislator be protected by sharp shooters from the military, in addition to police guards. Body armour plus helmets that are resistant to bullets will also be procured for the security detail.
“The MPs already have some Police guards. Those will stay with them. I will however add two other elements; the sharp shooters of the army and follow pickups that will be used against small arms and bullets,” the President wrote in his letter.
He ordered that Kasaija provides additional money for the vehicles “quickly”.
Since the directive was made public, many have been questioning not only the rationale of investing huge resources in protecting the MPs but also where this money is going to be sourced since Parliament already passed the budget for the 2018/19 financial year.
When SoftPower News asked Minister Kasaija about where the money for the security measures is going to be got, he said; “I don’t know. I suggest you excuse me on that one”.
“Because, when the President made the pronouncement, I have not had a one on one with him,” Minister Kasaija who was attending the Annual Bankers Conference at Kampala Serena Hotel on Tuesday said in a side interview.
“But we are thinking of other alternative ways other than providing the cars. We are thinking of various ways” he said, but was quick to add that he wasn’t very conversant with the specific details.
He referred us to the Minister in charge of Security.
Asked the same question during a separate news conference at Uganda Media Centre on Tuesday, State Minister for Planning, David Bahati told reporters that the President informed Cabinet Monday that he was still discussing it with the Security Committee.
“It is being handled by the President himself and he informed us [Cabinet] that he will be having an interaction with the Security Committee and that he will come back to the country,” Bahati said.
Some MPs have publicly stated that they are not interested in the individualized security proposed by the President claiming they do not have security threats. Some have instead suggested that the money which was meant to be spent on this undertaking be used for delivery of other much needed services to Ugandans.
The President also stated in the letter to Kasaija that “indiviadualised security was a wastage of resources – financial and manpower.” He directed that the pick ups are taken away from the MPs and given to the Army as soon as the security systems he proposed are implemented.