First of all, an MP is a person, not a thing. So that pretty much answers one of the two questions. Secondly, this blog is about MP as in Member of Parliament not menstruation period, menopause, military police, mad people, male protagonist, Melrose place or Moneypenny that secretary from the James Bond novels and films. So that should clear half the air. Now, as for who exactly an MP is; patience my friend, patience.
Internalizing and appreciating the duty and role of an MP in Uganda is something that is dependent on a number of things. If you are in the opposition or if you do not sympathize with the current Government, you are likely to imagine that the role of an MP is to shoot down whatever Government plans there are, no matter how beneficial they may be. If you are a member of the party with the most (s)eats in Parliament and therefore belong to the ruling party, you will expect that an MP should support Government programs no matter how ridiculous or retarded.
So then how does one become an MP?
Very good question right there. You see, no one is born an MP so this essentially means you have to claw your way into that position. Unless you are Suzan Nampijja or Proscovia Alengot Oromait whose parents seem to have passed on the MP genes, you will most likely have to start from the bottom and claw your way to the top just like everyone else. Oh wait, you could actually be the partner of a wife or husband of a well positioned person, like the president. Here you definitely have an all access pass and you could even be a lot more than just an MP, you could be a Minister. But that is only if you are lucky.
The royal baby is born into Royalty. No one is born as an MP.
As you try to claw your way to the top, you might need to take a few loans, sling some mud here and there, fake a few academic papers or even see a witchdoctor or two. Becoming an MP is no simple task. Having said that, one must take courage in the fact that as long as one has ever had a leadership role in life, one can easily become an MP. Even if all you did was lead your own life, you my friend are a leader and you have a shot. All you have to do is make sure that by the time of the elections, you have your guns blazing and you are ready for the battle.
What does an MP actually do?
In Uganda, an MP has quite a lot of work to do. After winning an election, you are literally thrust into a world of duty and responsibility, most of which you did not expect or anticipate. Many of the roles you will be called upon to execute might be outside of your job description but you do them anyway, it is what is generally expected of you. You might be called upon by people in your constituency to construct a road or build a bridge even though there are particular people who should be doing this. Every so often you will be required to be the Guest of Honour by virtue of your proximity to the highest leadership office in the land. If you attend an event and there is a person who is of higher ranking in terms of the leadership ladder, there is no chance you will be the Guest of Honour. You will however get a better seat than most and you will be served fresh cold drinks like an important person should be.
There are other roles you are required to play for instance deliberating in the August house. NO my friend – the August House is not a house that is set up or established in the month of August. Neither is it a house owned by someone called August. The August House is the Parliament. This is the place where you and 374 other LUCKY people shall gather whenever there are burning issues to be discussed for instance Oil, appointment of Ministers or the Gay Bill. Occasionally you might be advanced 5 million shillings to vote in favor or disfavor of a certain bill; worry not. This is part of your role. All you need to know is that there are sides that have to be taken when you get into the August house. You will either be an opposition MP or an MP who (s)eats with the ruling Government. You could opt to be an independent MP and this does not mean you are free of influence from a political party. It is just a title, albeit an almost meaningless one.
OK so an MP is an important person, right?
Well, technically an MP is an important person because they will be referred to as Honourable MP. This however should not get to your head because every once in a while, even as an MP, your opinion will be ignored as certain bills are passed. Obviously you will have been consulted but since you are among the few who are not in support of the bill your opinion will be regarded somewhat null and void. Sometimes you might find yourself doing some drastic things to see that your opinion is taken into consideration. For instance, like Mawokota South MP Joseph Kiyingi Bbosa ‘Baby Face’, you might need to go on a hunger strike to protest government failure to increase salaries of teachers. This however is no guarantee that your demands will be met because like I mentioned earlier, there are 374 other colleagues of yours and if each person’s opinion is to be looked into, we will take forever to get things done. So, keep calm and wait in line; your turn to throw a tantrum is around the corner.
So then, how do I benefit from this seemingly stressful role?
For starters, you have a fairly healthy salary waiting at the end of each month. On average, you will earn no less than a whooping sh22m in salary and allowances; and this by the way is after taxes. If this does not whet your appetite then the various unsecured loans you can access will probably excite you. If this does not excite you as well, how about the fact that you will have plenty of trips around the world just because you are an MP; surely this should make you smile. There’s more by the way; you will occasionally be offered some monies here and there to front certain causes and to vote for or against certain ideas. If this does not interest you as well, then look here my friend, you just have very high expectations. Maybe you should be president or something! But then again, one of the ways you will get closer to the presidency is if you start small; being an MP is starting small. Not that being an MP is a small thing but you know, compared to being president, an MP is a little too small. I am told some MPs have even never shaken the President’s hand – that’s how small the position can be. But hey, you are not there to shake the president’s hand so that shouldn’t bother you one single bit. You are there to legislate and represent your people.
If you play your cards well, you can enjoy numerous trips to this place, of course paid for by the Government
Represent people? What people?
Ok before we even proceed, let’s get one thing straight. It is the people who send you to parliament. No; they do not wake you up in the morning and tell you to go the Parliament but they vote you in thus giving you the green light to represent them. It is entirely up to you to actually represent them adequately or simply show up in Parliament, head for the back bench, take off your shoes and enjoy your afternoon nap as the rest of the Honourables make noise and exchange harsh words and threats. If your constituents are not as keen to follow your participation in the August house, you could even spend the entire 5 years doing nothing but showing up for sessions and signing for your salary and allowances. It can be that simple. The only worry is that sometimes the local papers tend to get so nosy and publish lists of MPs who are inactive. This should not bother you though because you are only answerable to your constituents and if they are not asking any questions, there will be no need for answers. You are safe.
You will bump into Agnes Nandutu quite a lot. She will be reporting from around your work place
So when can one plan to become an MP?
2016! Preparations start right here, right now. And you can have me on your campaign team if you can promise me something substantial. Don’t look at me like that. People plan these things in advance.
Prepare for ‘Operation become an MP’
In the meantime, here is your weekly piece of inspiration;
Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it – Dwight D. Eisenhower
Have a wonderful week friends.
The Talkative Rocker