Last week some of our MPs headed stateside for the annual Uganda North America Association (UNAA) convention. While there they indulged in some sightseeing and the now mandatory selfies.
Of course us mere mortals back home struggling to not only make an honest shilling but to stretch it too, were understandably infuriated by this show of conspicuous consumption.
It was reported that all the costs coming to about sh2b for the six day trip, were being footed by parliament, despite loud protestations to the contrary.
"But just to put this in perspective the sh2b the MPs blew on their jaunt across the Atlantic would have been enough to treat 41,492 inpatients at Mulago hospital or 5.75m out patients at the same facility. This comparison will replicate itself whether you are talking about building classrooms or health centers or constructing feeder roads...
Pause a moment and let that sink in for a moment.
In effect this means that a handful of MPs – relative to the total population of the country, for a weeklong trip consumed the funds required to cover Mulago’s outpatient budget for six years? And for what? For a convention of questionable value to national development, characterised more by merry making than any constructive deliberation?
Only in Uganda!
Imagine the scenario in a remote homestead somewhere in rural Uganda where the children’s school fees Is due, the granary is empty and there is a disturbing bug running through the family that requires urgent medical attention. Imagine further that the planting season is coming and seed has to be bought, labour contracted to ensure work is done in the fields. With these myriad of emergenices at hand imagine the head of the family then takes a trip to Kampala to cool off from the domestic pressures, patronises some of our choicest night spots and even tries his had at roulette wheel in one or two or even three of our local casinos. As if that is not enough he finds the time to send selfies back to his hunger racked, disease ridden, hopeless family rubbing their runny noses in the good time he is having in the big city.
You can’t simplify it any more in trying to analogise what parliament has done to us hapless tax payers.
It boggles the mind.
And the even bigger scandal is that they shall get away with it. No one, least of all themselves will hold them accountable. It is true what they say, we get the leaders we deserve.
Clearly these honourable men and women are not our servants sent to front our aspirations and champion our causes. We should disabuse ourselves of the notion.
"The reality is that our political elite are there to gorge themselves at the trough of tax payers money and the rest be damned. Did I hear that they now want their car allowance to be raised from sh200m from the earlier sh150m and don’t want the tax man sniffing around this taxable allowance?...
We have said it before in this column but it is something that bares repeating, we are poor not for lack of resources but because one, we don’t know how to mobilise the resources we already have and even if we manage to put together a few coins the allocation of those funds is dubious at best and downright criminal at worst.
The road to wealth for country or individual is quite simple, one only needs to shift expenditure towards investment and away from consumption. A simple plan but not easy to implement, because our base instincts – sloth, greed, envy, lust and hubris make it hard to stick to this formula.
A sign of personal discipline is to be able to override these tendencies, delay gratification and plan for the long term. This is even more important for a country.
Also with the deluge of dollars that is expected with oil production within a decade, we can only expect this kind of nauseating extravagance to increase rather than the opposite. They say that money does not make one a better or worse person but only magnifies what they already are. So things will only get worse before they ever get better.
These are our leaders, the cream of our society, if this is how they decide matters of national importance it hurts the head to imagine how the rest of us, who follow them like lemmings, will behave.
"When you have a political elite who are hell bent on living for today without a care for tomorrow, does it take a prophet to fortell where we are heading?...
Clearly this parliament, not only because of the sheer amorphousness of it, is surplus to our requirements.