Members of Parliament in Mbale are in hot soup after their voters demanded that they refund all the money advanced to them to hold consultations on a Constitutional Amendment that lifted the cap on the presidential age limit.
This is derived from the up to 13 billion Shillings that government sent to MPs for consultations. Under the arrangement, each legislator received up to 29 million Shillings to consult constituents on a Private Member's Bill tabled before parliament by Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi.
Through the bill, members of parliament lifted the cap on the presidential age from the 75, which was provided for under the 1995 constitution, reintroduced presidential term limits and extended the term of office for the President, Parliament and Local Governments from five to seven years.
Now, voters say that the amendments were deviously passed after members pocketed all the money advanced to them for consultations. Wakhayete Mafabi, the Chairperson of the Elders Forum in Mbale district faults legislators for using the money to service their private work instead of holding consultations.
John Egesa, a resident of Busia expressed disappointment that the MPs went ahead to approve amendments to the consultations without engaging constituents, the majority of who were against the proposals.
Similarly, Francis Adongo, a resident of Kumi says the government should make all efforts to recover the money in question and use it for services that are of benefit to the taxpayer.
The demand comes a day after lawyers representing petitioners in a case challenging the lifting of the presidential age limit from the constitution told the court in Mbale that the decision to draw the said money from the consolidated fund was irregular and contravened article 93 of the 1995 constitution. The article, as amended, restricts parliament from withdrawing funds from the consolidated fund to finance a private Member's Bill.
The Petitioners' lawyer, Erias Lukwago submitted that Members of Parliament were adequately facilitated and that there was no need to illegally fund them with extra money. He equated drawing the extra funds to theft.
A panel of five judges led by Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Remmy Kasule, Elizabeth Musoke, Cheborion Barishaki and Kenneth Kakuru is handling the petition whose hearing is held in Mbale.