Kampala, Uganda | URN | The newly elected Kawempe North Member of Parliament, Muhammad Segirinya says he is against most of the perks that make the job of a legislator posh and attractive to many, pointing out, among others the hefty salaries and allowances.
With a total of over 41,000 votes, Segirinya who preferred to use Luganda for the interview with this publication trounced Hajji Latif Ssebaggala Ssengendo to take the seat which attracted nine candidates.
The others were renowned opposition politician Sulaiman Kidandala. FDC’s Muhamood Mutazindwa, NRM’s Kasenge Tom Fisher, Serunkuma Yusuf and ANT’s Rogers Sendawula, among others.
Segirinya says that as he joins the 11th parliament, he intends to move a private members’ bill seeking to reduce the salaries of all legislators’ to not more than five million Shillings.
An MP gets a basic salary of 11 million Shillings which comes to 6 million Shillings after all deductibles, but get an average of 10-30 million shillings in monthly mileage allowances.
When it comes to cars, Segirinnya says that he intends to distribute the 100 million Shillings allocated for the purchase of a vehicle for each legislator to women who engage in petty businesses and of National Unity Platform (NUP) party supporters who died as they traversed the country looking for votes.
In a strategy that seems to have attracted voters to the controversial politician, Segirinya who stood for the same seat unsuccessfully in 2011 before resigning to being LCV Councilor in 2016 says he will keep a low profile by staying in the same house he has been residing in and maintain the same Toyota Spacio car he has been driving.
His landslide win came off as a surprise to many but not to the people of Kawempe. Referring to him as Eddobozi lye Kyebando, Mariam Nantongo a resident of Namere in Kawempe division says they voted a person they can easily identify with.
While she acknowledges Kidandala and incumbent Ssebaggala who has been in parliament for 20 years could have made finer representatives since they can better express themselves in English, the acceptable language on the floor of parliament, Nantongo says they started noticing leadership potential in the MP-elect when, even as a student, he would call-in radio programmes to complain about key issues in the community like floods in Bwaise, filth and leadership problems in his constituency.
Ronnie Kaweesa, another resident in Kawempe North says that the COVID-19 pandemic was another opportunity for Segirinya in addition to being very close to the Presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine who he spent most of the campaign period with.
Kaweesa says the politician distributed food from donations he gathered from abroad to a lot of families that would have otherwise gone hungry.
Segirinya acknowledges that he took food distribution up as an opportunity to popularize his parliamentary ambitions.
However, Segirinya’s chance of winning started taking shape when he was handed the NUP ticket which was seen as a way of rewarding him for sticking with Kyagulanyi from 2017 when he was campaigning as an independent candidate in the Kyadondo East Constituency Parliamentary By-election.
Segirinya who had been an FDC stalwart crossed to People Power when Kyagulanyi announced his presidential ambitions and later to NUP. He now says he will only represent Kawempe North for two terms. While in parliament he would like to be appointed Shadow Minister for Disaster Preparedness.
The 33-year-old says he has already ordered for two ambulances for the constituency, in celebration of his landslide victory.