Amid country’s struggle to purchase vaccines to combat corona virus pandemic in the country, Parliament of Uganda procured iPads to 529 Members of Parliament and 26 Ex-officio Ministers worth 2 billion shillings.
According to the Deputy Speaker Anita Among during the Thursday plenary session, she said that Parliament would start distributing the iPads to MPs on Monday 2, July 2021.
“I am glad to inform you that the iPads, instead of us asking for papers for documents, the Ipads are now available,” Among said during the plenary on Thursday, July 29, 2021.
The tradition of procuring iPads for MPs started during the ninth Parliament when the Parliamentary Commission, the governing body of the House approved the expenditure.
However, the Parliamentary Commission in 2013 while approving a proposal to purchase tablets for all MPs in the 9th Parliament at a cost of more than Ush1 billion. Legislators are required to return the iPads or pay a residual fee at the end of their five-year tenure.
The legislators of the 11th parliament were ordered to return iPads that were issued to them five years ago by April 30 this year.
In a March 31 letter from the Clerk to Parliament, Jane Kibirige reminds all lawmakers that the gadgets are the property of the government and must be returned or paid for before the end of MPs terms.
She said parliament has valued the iPads for disposal depending on the type and year of purchase.
Those who are unable to return the gadget will purchase it at a disposal price set by the House, depending on the brand.
“The Parliamentary Commission through the Contracts Committee has approved the disposal of iPads by sale to the current users. The decision was informed by the fact that these iPads have since become part and parcel of the current holder and carry data personal to them,” the letter read in part.
“This is to, therefore, inform you that the amount corresponding to the iPad you hold shall be deducted from your emolument of May 2021 to recover the cost of the iPad in your possession,” the letter added.
MPs, who were given Apple air 2 wifi+cellular (2014) will pay Ush550,000 (about $150) to retain them, those with Apple iPad 9.9 32gb (2018) will part with Ush600,000 (about $164) while those who were given Apple iPad 9.7, 128gb (2018) are to pay USh700,000 (about $192).
“However, if you prefer not to pay for the iPad and would like to return it to the commission, you are requested to inform the Clerk to Parliament to that effect in writing by April 30,” Ms Kibirige said.
Mr Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala County) said: “These iPads have become our personal items and they store a lot of our information that we do not wish to lose. The money parliament is asking for is very little and I am sure all MPs can afford it.”
Ms Lowila Oketayot (Pader District Woman MP) said those that will be returned will be disposed of at a cheaper price since there is an iPad budget for new MPs. Manjiya County MP, Mr John Baptist Nambeshe, said they do not see any problem with returning the iPads because their term is ending in May.
Following Among’s communication, the leader of opposition Mathias Mpuuga appealed to MPs to ensure proper use of the gadgets, especially when attending committee meetings and plenary sittings virtually. He also appealed for decency when one is using Zoom technology to avoid any scandalous