The office of a Member of Parliament is largely a representative one.
In January this year, President Museveni blamed some of the government’s failures on a section of ‘lazy and useless’ lawmakers whom he criticised for not identifying problems affecting citizens and monitoring government projects in their respective constituencies.
Speaking to The Nile Post, Ssegirinya Muhammad, the MP for Kawempe North, said there are quite a number of things that a leader can do within the shortest period of time to change the lives of his or her people.
How are you adjusting to life as a newcomer in Parliament?
I won’t change from the Ssegirinya you know. I was voted because I am a man of the people. The day I was sworn in, I think you can remember even everyone was happy. People were only waiting for only one person Ssegirinya Muhammad. So I won’t change from the Ssegirinya you know. I am not proud to be a Member of Parliament because the common people who elected me are suffering. That is why I will empower the health sector. I will empower the education sector and I will empower the low income earners in Kawempe North.
You recently claimed that some people are after your life. Who are these people who want to kill you?
You know in this world whenever you do good things, you create enemies. Within the shortest period of time, I will call a press conference and talk about all those issues and what happened when I was in Kitalya prison. I was poisoned because of this parliamentary seat, and that is why I was saying that instead of poisoning me, one should rather tell me not to contest because life is more important than anything.
You have been seen unveiling new ambulances for your people. How do you rate the performance of your predecessor for the time he spent representing the people of Kawempe North?
Since I am under the leadership of Kawempe North, I want to show people what a leader can do to serve his or her people. It’s only been three weeks since I was sworn in. I think you can see the speed in which Kawempe North is moving. Many people want to migrate from other constituencies to come and settle in Kawempe North because the only active member of Parliament in the 11th Parliament is none other than Ssegirinya Muhammad.
I have started an initiative which is called Kawempe North Hospital and I have also introduced another imitative called “Ssegiboxi” which is used for savings. So the things I am doing within the short time I have spent in Parliament can help you to measure who is doing better, the one who spent 25 years or the one who has just spent three weeks.
There was stiff competition in your constituency. What unique qualities do you have that enabled the people of Kawempe North to trust you in the last election?
I am a man of action. Whenever I promise something, I have to fulfil it and that is why people decided to vote for me as their Member of Parliament. People trusted me because of my previous activities [good deeds]. The humanitarian work, which I am doing, paying for people’s rent, paying school fees for the vulnerable, and going in the villages visiting sick people. Even the manifesto which I presented to them was very important. They considered it because what I promised them is what I am doing.
Your critics say you don’t have the minimum academic qualifications and that you are not even fit to represent the people of Kawempe North. What is the truth?
I have heard that some of them went to court, although I wasn’t served. I think those are matters of court, so I don’t discuss the matters of court in the media but what I can tell you is that I am fit because I have been a lord councillor for the last five years. Secondly I have the academic qualifications and the qualities to represent the people of Kawempe North. I have been giving bursaries from primary one to university. How can I fail to give myself a bursary? So I am a qualified man .I am a substantial Member of Parliament who is able to represent the people of Kawempe North.
I was nominated because I have the qualities. When I went to the Electoral Commission, I presented valid academic documents and that is why the EC managed to nominate me as MP of Kawempe North Constituency.
In the 2016 general election, you were behind Dr Kizza Besigye, what forced you to join the National Unity Platform?
I think you can remember the time Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu came on board, it’s the time I joined him, and I am one of the founding members of People Power Movement. I decided to support Robert Kyagulanyi because of his manifesto and besides that, he is a youth.
Dr Besigye helped me in many things but right now as you know that politics is dynamic. The one with the mantle of leadership is none other than Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu and that is why I am still moving with him and I will continue moving with him because he is a youth. He is a ghetto man, I am also a ghetto man, so we have common factors and that is why I support him.
Many people claim some of you joined NUP to fulfil your personal interests but not to pursue the struggle to liberate the country. Where do you fall?
For me, I joined Robert Kyagulanyi during the by-election of Kyadondo East and I was part of his campaign team. I didn’t know that in 2021 he would contest as the president of Uganda. There are those who came later and joined but for me I am one of the founding members.
How best would you like to represent the people of Kawempe North in the 11th Parliament?
I plan to take their voice to the Parliament of Uganda. I think you have been following me in this trying moment of the lockdown. I am trying to give food to the people that I represent. I am also giving them some small money so that they are able to survive during this period of time. I am trying to do a lot of things as the Kawempe North MP.
What are some of the areas that you are going to prioritise as you begin your term?
We are supposed to get Shs 200 million for a car. I will not buy a car, I have decided to donate that money to the vulnerable people of Kawempe North, especially the low income earners in my constituency. I will empower youth in my area. So those are some of the key areas that I am going to focus on. I will also present a private member’s bill in the Parliament because it is quite unfair for a Member of Parliament to be paid Shs 30 million when teachers are getting Shs 500, 000.
When doctors are receiving Shs 700, 000, I will present a private members bill so that they can deduct MPs’ salaries, so that the salaries of the teachers and doctors are increased. Secondly I will present another private members bill so that term limits are brought back for both the president and MPs. Someone doesn’t want to retire yet we have a new breed [of leadership] which would want to represent our people.
Where do you see NUP as a party in some years to come?
NUP in some few years to come will lead this country and Robert Kyagulanyi will be announced the president of Uganda.