The Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) wants the budget allocated to the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament shared among all opposition parties in the House.
In a meeting with the Speaker to Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, on Monday, 24 June 2019, the IPOD delegation requested her to cause the sharing of the opposition budget.
IPOD, a loose coalition bringing together political parties represented in Parliament, started in 2010.
The IPOD Council Chairman, Dr Gerald Blacks Siranda, proposed that 40 per cent of the Leader of the Opposition (LoP’s) budget coming from the Parliamentary Commission should be shared on an equal basis among all parties represented in the House and 60 per cent quota divided on the basis of numerical strength.
“The funding allocated to the Office of the Leader of the Opposition be structured out to all parties represented in the House; instead of all the money being allocated to the LOP, 40 per cent should be shared on equal basis and 60 per cent on individual merit,” said Siranda.
“You mean from the Commission budget?” asked Kadaga. “Yes,” replied Dr Siranda.
The Speaker also used the opportunity to critique the Shs3 million now charged as fees for nomination for those aspiring to become Members of Parliament.
This, said Kadaga, is exorbitant and unacceptable, a position she announced earlier this year during the Commonwealth Youth Inclusion Conference hosted by the Parliament of Uganda.
“I still think the Shs3 million was exorbitant because it used to be about Shs 400,000 and it was hiked to Shs 3 million; this is prohibitive…I am not saying I cannot afford it, but it will stop the young people and others who cannot afford it,” said Kadaga.
In the run-up to the 2016 general elections, Parliament voted to hike the nomination fees, despite a call for caution by Speaker Kadaga.
It received rebuke from Parliamentary candidates across the political divide, who slammed it as a ploy by then incumbent MPs to ring fence the seats for themselves.
Kadaga said since Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, also Leader of Government Business in Parliament, is a Member, he (Prime Minister) should hasten the move to present a Bill to reform the electoral system and include all the IPOD ideas for the Legislature’s consideration.
The Speaker has on several occasions asked government to present the electoral reforms right in time for Parliament’s consideration, but the calls are yet to attract government’s consideration.
IPOD has had a rocky journey, with main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) recently terming it a collusion between the ruling National Resistance Movement Party and ‘fringe’ political parties to get back at FDC.
The FDC Party spokesman, Ibrahim Semujju (FDC, Kira Municipality) recently took to local media to dismiss the IPOD as inconsequential.
FDC’s sibling rivalry with the Democratic Party (DP) could escalate if Dr Siranda’s proposal is considered.