MPs have no powers to increase their salaries and other emoluments without going through the Government, the Supreme Court has ruled.
“Anybody who wants to create a charge on the Consolidated Fund must first inform the Government and; Article 93 of the Constitution is meant to achieve that,” the court noted yesterday.
The court dismissed, with costs, an appeal in which the Parliamentary Commission had sought to overturn an earlier judgment where the Constitutional Court ordered the MPs to refund all the monies they increased themselves in the past without following the Constitution.
“We find no merit in this appeal and dismiss it accordingly. We award the costs of the appeal to the respondent,” the court ruled in a judgment read by the court’s deputy registrar, Godfrey Opifeni Anguandia.
Chief Justice Bart Katureebe chaired the Coram. The other members were Justices Stella-Maris Arach-Amoko, Rubby Opio-Aweri, Faith Mwondha, Paul Kahaibale Mugamba, Augustine Nshimye Sebutuulo, and Jotham Tumwesigye. In 2011, a concerned citizen, Wilson Mwesigye, through Mukasa Lugalambi Advocates, petitioned the Constitutional Court seeking to stop the MPs from increasing their salaries and other emoluments in violation of the Constitution.
Unanimously agreeing with the judgment of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court also agreed with the submissions of Fred Mukasa, the lawyer representing the petitioner, that by increasing their emoluments without going through the Government, the MPs were violating the Constitution and that they must be stopped from further violation of the Constitution and exploiting Ugandans, hence this appeal.
The Supreme Court concurred with the Constitutional Court that it was unconstitutional for MPs to increase their emoluments basing on section 5 of the Parliamentary (Remuneration of Members of Parliament) Act, contrary to Article 93 of the Constitution. The court clarified that Article 93 of the Constitution requires such action of the MPs to be originated by a Bill or motion to be moved on behalf of the Government.
Lugalambi, on behalf of the petitioner, asked the Constitutional Court to strike out as unconstitutional, section 5 of the Parliamentary (Remuneration of MPs) Act. Originally, the petitioner dragged the Attorney General, together with the Parliamentary Commission, to court, arguing that the emoluments of the MPs are out of step with the remuneration of public servants, in a discriminatory manner and; contrary to natural justice.
The Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional Court’s ruling, striking out as unconstitutional Section 5 of the Parliament (Remuneration of MPs) Act for not being in conformity with Article 93 of the Constitution and it was declared null and void.
What President says
Early this month, while meeting the National Resistance Movement MPs at State House, Nakasero, President Yoweri Museveni warned legislators against increasing their salaries, saying it was wrong and should stop.
Sources that attended the closed-door meeting said the President was reportedly angry with the way the MPs had increased their pay, saying the citizens were complaining about their actions. He reportedly cautioned the MPs against increasing their pay under the disguise of running constituency affairs.
“While on upcountry tours, the citizens complained about this issue of increasing your salaries. It is wrong and you should not do it. People think that MPs are selfish,” a source quoted the President as saying.