NRM to punish its treasurer for voting against mobile money tax

Namutumba Woman MP and NRM treasurer Mariam Naigaga

The executive leadership of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) parliamentary caucus is considering disciplinary action against its treasurer Mariam Naigaga for voting against the mobile money tax bill.

Naigaga, the Namutumba Woman MP voted against the retention of a 0.5 per cent tax on mobile money withdrawals, as parliament passed the amendments in the law last week.

The NRM caucus had reportedly resolved to support a reduction of the tax from 1 per cent to 0.5 per cent, but not the dissolution of the tax in totality. But Naigaga told journalists that members of the NRM caucus had failed to get a common position on the matter and added that her allegiance lies first with her constituents.

However, government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa says Naigaga will have to appear before the executive committee of the NRM caucus in parliament to justify her actions. Nankabirwa, who doubles as the chairperson of the caucus told journalists that Naigaga will be expected to explain why she should not face disciplinary action for going against a decision that she was part to.

“Many people were greatly concerned about one of the caucus executive members going against the caucus decision. This is really out of order, she wasn’t in order….The rules allow you, a member of the caucus, who is having difficulty in supporting a caucus decision to go and discuss with the government chief whip. You can put it in writing and I’m instructed by the rules to put the response in writing. I can advise you to go and hold your view if you’re so passionate about that view…But to surprise me and hold your view, you, a member of parliament who is on the executive is not acceptable.”

Nankabirwa says that belonging to a political party warrants members to respect party resolutions. She reiterated that defiant NRM MPs ought to remember that Uganda has since moved from the movement system to a multiparty system which warrants them to abide by party decisions.

“We chose to go into multi-party dispensation. We must respect how parties work. I am observing the individualism coming up which was working well when we were in the Movement political system,” Nankabirwa said.

“If you want to be independent, go and be an independent then we’ll know that for you don’t care  – you’re holding an independent mind. But if you’re in a certain political organisation, you must respect that organisation – across the board whether in opposition or in government,” Nankabirwa added.

But Naigaga has maintained her defense against the mobile money tax saying that as a member of the parliamentary finance committee that scrutinized the bill, most of the people who appeared before the committee never supported the tax.

She said that voting in support of the tax would mean that parliament was carrying out duties without listening to the people. Naigaga said that her decision was based on the need to strike a balance between the party position and the interests of her voters.

“If I need to be disciplined, I will respect the chief whip’s decision if at all it’s within the rules. However, I also support the NRM and President Museveni but I support policies that are pro-people not policies that are anti-people,” Naigaga said.