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Parliament Urges Government Action on Mental Health, Minimum Wage

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Parliament Urges Government Action on Mental Health, Minimum Wage

The tragic killing of Uttam Bhandari, a city moneylender, by Police Officer Ivan Wabwire has ignited discussions surrounding mental health, minimum wage, and exorbitant interest rates.

During the plenary session on Tuesday, 16 May 2023, Speaker Anita Among urged the government to expedite the establishment of the Salaries Review Commission to ensure fair remuneration across the public service. She emphasized that inadequate pay should never be an excuse for committing murder.

The Speaker also called for government intervention in regulating interest rates in the market to protect citizens from excessive charges on loans.

“We must address mental health issues, moneylenders should not impose exorbitant interest rates, we need updates on the salaries and remuneration commission, and the government should take steps to regulate interest rates,” she stated.

On the day of the shooting on Friday, 12 May 2023, a Police spokesperson initially stated that Wabwire, who is now facing charges in court for the shooting, was receiving treatment for a mental health condition. However, the Police authorities later claimed that he was mentally sound.

MP Emmanuel Ongiertho (FDC, Jonam County) highlighted the fact that the suspect had chosen to take a commercial loan instead of utilizing the Police’s EXODUS Cooperative Savings and Credit Society Ltd (SACCO), which has faced allegations of corruption in the recent past.

“The issue of minimum wage for officers like Ivan Wabwire is important. We may be reluctant to discuss it, but it holds significance. There are numerous problems within the Police SACCO… ideally, that officer would have borrowed from the SACCO,” he remarked.

Speaker Among acknowledged that Parliament had previously investigated the SACCO after a whistle-blower exposed allegations of Police officials exploiting SACCO funds for personal gain while hindering members’ access to their own funds through strict saving plans.

MP Joseph Ssewungu (NUP, Kalungu West County) called upon the Ministry of Internal Affairs to provide a comprehensive statement on the recent surge in assassinations within the country. He emphasized the need for informed debates and effective solutions.

Similarly, MP Paul Akamba (NRM, Busiki County) advocated for stricter gun control measures. He argued that while motor-vehicle drivers are bound by traffic laws, such as abstaining from intoxication while driving, the conditions under which licensed firearm carriers should not possess their weapons remain unclear.

He proposed regular mental health assessments for all firearms carriers to prevent the possibility of mentally unfit individuals using firearms to harm, injure, or kill others.

Sarah K. Biryomumaisho is a Multimedia journalist (Broadcast & Writing) with 11 years of experience. She holds a Diploma in Business Administration from Makerere Business Institute and a Certificate in Media Management from Women in News. She completed a Course in Wikimedia in 2020, making her one of the very few Wikipedia Editors in the country. She also has a certificate in Gender Justice Reporting from The International Women's Media Foundation, IWMF. She has worked with a number of media houses including 6 Radio stations, most recently Galaxy fm 100.2 & Radio 4. She has worked with Andariya Magazine as a writer. Sarah worked as a Digital Communications consultant for the newly revived Uganda Airlines and is also a Digital enthusiast. She owns a Media Organization called TheUgPost that publishes in Uganda and has a global reach. Twitter; https://twitter.com/BiryomumaishoB

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