There has been an outrage by Ugandan citizens after the government handed nearly $30m to members of parliament (MPs) to buy new cars this week.
Each of the 529 lawmakers received 200 million shillings ($56,500) to get new vehicles in a country where a manual labourer earn an average monthly salary of about $28 while a teacher get $75.
This is coming at a time when COVID-19 cases are surging in the east African country already wreaked by the pandemic.
“It is unacceptable for a government to buy luxuries for a small group in parliament, who continue to receive monthly pay of more than 30 million shillings (about $8,000) while the larger population are unable to feed themselves,” said Anet Nana Namata, an active human rights defender and executive director of the Union of Human Rights Defenders Uganda.
Moses Isooba, leader of the National NGO Forum, added: “This act is shameful at a time the government is appealing to private citizens to contribute money to buy the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Government spokesman, Ofwono Opondo, defending the decision as being in line with a time-honoured tradition said “it is to facilitate their engagement with the electorate. In any case, the civil society organisations have been part of the budgeting processes and knew long time the MPs were to get money to buy cars.
Uganda, a country of 45 million people, has recorded 91,710 COVID-19 cases and 2,496 deaths.
Only about one million people have been vaccinated so far.