The Ugandan parliament’s decision to award 1,200 of its lawmakers who served in a 50-year period between 1962 and 2012 with honorary medals for the country’s 50th anniversary of its independence from the U.K. has reportedly incensed critics across the nation and world.
According to the BBC, the plan to honour the lawmakers was first proposed by President Yoweri Museveni to mark Uganda’s golden jubilee celebrations.
A Ugandan parliament statement says, “The Speaker of Parliament in conjunction with the Presidential Awards Committee have organised the Golden Jubilee Awards Ceremony for Members of Parliament who have served in the different legislatures from the time of Uganda’s independence.”
A cross-section of Ugandans have, however, slammed the awards for costing the Ugandan parliament about 600,0000 shillings or about $177,000.
They say such funds would have served the country better if channeled toward critical areas in dire need of funding, such as education and health.
In what can be considered an extension of the olive branch, the awards will also recognize Uganda’s main opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye and his wife Winnie Byanyima — both are former members of parliament.
Red Pepper reports President Museveni as saying Besigye will be awarded the medal in recognition of his contribution to the liberation struggle. Dr. Besigye is a former member of the National Resistance Council, while Ms. Byanyima is a former representative for Mbarara Municipality in parliament.
Despite his involvement in politics and contributions to national service, Dr. Besigye has never considered for a national award by the Museveni government before.
Besigye and Museveni used to enjoy a close relationship, with the former serving as Museveni’s personal physician until the pair fell out. Besigye went on to lead the opposition and become Museveni’s strongest critic, competing four times against him in the presidential elections.
The awards ceremony will be held on September 26th at Kampala Serena Hotel. Besigye and Byanyima are currently outside of Uganda; therefore, it is not immediately clear if they will attend the awards.