Uganda’s opposition leaders has criticized the government’s move to buy limousines for key parliament officials on Tuesday, highlighting the country’s soaring cost of living as inflation rises.
Food prices have risen in recent weeks as President Yoweri Museveni ignores calls for tax cuts and subsidies, instead urging citizens to live frugally. The country of 45 million people has been hard hit by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, with food prices soaring in recent weeks as President Yoweri Museveni ignores calls for tax cuts and subsidies, instead urging citizens to live frugally.
The purchase of two limousines for the parliament speaker and her deputy for 2.4 billion shillings ($640,000) has sparked popular outrage, with Uganda’s major opposition leader, Bobi Wine, accusing the government of neglecting to “prioritize the suffering of Ugandans.”
“How do we spend 2.4 billion to purchase two vehicles for the speaker and the deputy speaker to attend ceremonies when millions of Ugandans sleep hungry, when the people cannot afford the basics of life,” the rapper-turned-politician told AFP.
The acquisition was described as “scandalous” by Museveni opponent and former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye, who was charged for inciting violence after urging Ugandans to oppose the price hike.
He told AFP, “It is apparent that this is a parasitic regime that must be stopped.”
Prossy Akampurira Mbabazi, Uganda’s parliament commissioner, defended the decision to buy the automobiles on Tuesday, telling AFP: “The public outrage is unjustified.”
“The cars which the speaker and the deputy were using were 10 years old and had to be replaced,” she stated.
“Cutting taxes and subsidies, especially on imports, is suicidal,” Museveni said in his annual state of the nation address on Tuesday. “Our people may buy irresponsibly, and we end up depleting our forex (foreign exchange) reserves.”
“The purchase was in terrible taste and in contradiction to the president’s plea for citizens to be economical,” Julius Mukunda, executive director of the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group, an umbrella body of civil society organizations, told AFP.