Questioned. NRM MPs, according to sources questioned why President Museveni appointed Opposition members.
Kampala. President Museveni has disregarded persistent calls for a leaner government and instead, requested MPs to allow him expand the size of his post-election cabinet from 80 to 88 ministers.
The President, who according to sources, informed the NRM Caucus last Friday that he intends to restructure large ministries and departments to make them efficient and accelerate service delivery in the country.
Although the NRM Caucus passed a resolution for Parliament to authorise the President to expand his cabinet, two MPs including Mr Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga East) and Ms Margaret Muhanga (Kabarole) voiced concerns about increased cost of public administration.
The MPs also vowed to vote against the President’s motion when it is tabled in Parliament.
Daily Monitor understands the motion to expand Cabinet is expected to be tabled tomorrow in Parliament by Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, the Government Chief Whip, designate.
More minister be appointed
President Museveni agreed with MPs that more ministers (about seven) who will manage the yet to be identified dockets be appointed after the vetting process of the named minister which starts tomorrow.
Opposition politicians who spoke to Daily Monitor at weekend said having too many ministers is not only bad for the quality of government, but also for the independence of the legislature.
Most of the ministers are elected from MPs. Last week, President Museveni announced his post-election Cabinet of 81 ministers (32 Cabinet and 49 State), up from 80.
The President appointed Uganda Federal Alliance President, Ms Beti Kamya Kampala minister and elevated the docket which was formerly a department in the Presidency to an independent ministry. State ministers also increased from 48 to 49.
Articles 113 (2) and 114 (3) Constitution prescribe a government of only 42 ministers (Cabinet and State).
However, the same Constitution, according to NRM Caucus spokesperson, Mr Hamson Obua, gives the President the leeway to seek Parliamentary authority in case he wants to appoint more ministers.
NRM Caucus resolution
“The Caucus passed a resolution, giving the President retrospective authority to increase the number of ministers,” Mr Obua, the Ajuri County MP said.
“If the total number of both Cabinet and state ministers exceed the 42, the total number of ministers (21 Cabinet and 21 state) in the Constitution, the President is free to seek Parliamentary approval,” he added.
Other sources told Daily Monitor the President was arm-twisted by NRM MPs who disparaged his Cabinet nominees as “a joke” and wondered why he picked Opposition ministers.
The President tried to defend his Opposition nominees as “friendly forces” unlike Dr Kizza Besigye’s radical Opposition wing but the NRM MPs rejected his explanation as weak.
The caucus gave the President a condition that the extra seven ministers should be NRM members and none should come from Opposition.
During his campaigns in November 2015, President Museveni, who was addressing a news conference at Morulinga State Lodge in Napak District, defended his large Cabinet, saying he needs many ministers to ably supervise government programmes.
Mr Museveni was responding to his opponents, Mr Amama Mbabazi of Go Forward and FDC’s Kizza Besigye who had promised a leaner Cabinet.
The president called them “insincere” even after he acknowledged that a bloated government comes with a high wage bill, which, during the reading of the 2015/16 Budget in June, he said was Shs3 trillion.
Dr Besigye and Mr Mbabazi, like five others who challenged Mr Museveni for the presidency during the disputed February polls, promised to trim Cabinet to save money and directed to priority areas such as education, health and agriculture or invested in the improvement of the welfare of public servants.
A Cabinet minister earns Shs28m a month and a state minister Shs26m.
Ex-officio ministers are paid a gross monthly salary of about Shs2m by the ministry of Public Service and a consolidated pay of about Shs18m per month.
Ministers with constituencies are paid the same salary for MPs (a consolidated pay of about Shs25m per month).
President Museveni also has 100 advisers who are collectively paid Shs230m every month.
In a year, their earnings translate into about Shs3b. The total wage bill of the Office of the President, which also covers 112 RDCs and their deputies, stands at Shs702.2m a month, totalling to more than Shs8b annually.
What the Constitution says: According to Article 113 of the Constitution Cabinet Ministers, shall be appointed by the President with the approval of Parliament from among Members of Parliament or persons qualified to be elected members of Parliament. The total number of Cabinet Ministers shall not exceed 21 except with the approval of Parliament. There shall also only be 21 state ministers.
Number of ministers: At a combined number of 81 ministers, the current Cabinet exceeds the Constitutional requirement of 42 ministers. Currently there are 32 Cabinet and 49 State ministers.