Joel Ssenyonyi and NUP MPs Face Criticism for Receiving Large Per Diems for Brief Hospital Visit

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The Leader of Opposition, Joel Ssenyonyi, and several National Unity Platform (NUP) Members of Parliament (MPs) have come under fire for allegedly receiving large sums of money amounting to over UGX 16 M each to visit their hospitalized colleague, Muhammed Ssegirinya, for a mere few minutes at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. The visit, which lasted less than five minutes, has raised eyebrows and sparked concerns about the misuse of parliamentary funds.

According to the caretakers responsible for Ssegirinya’s well-being, Ssenyonyi, along with MPs Paul Lutamaguzi Semakula, Derrick Nyeko, Betty Ethel Naluyima, and Helen Nakimuli, expressed their intentions to visit their comrade in the hospital. However, after a short stay, they quickly left to attend personal errands, including a visit to the leader of the opposition in the Kenyan parliament.

 

While the caretakers originally saw the visit as a kind gesture, they later found out that these lawmakers had asked parliament for a per diem of five days each to visit Ssegirinya. Surprisingly, their visit lasted only five minutes, and they didn’t even bring a bottle of water for the patient.

The caretakers were puzzled as to why these people, who claimed to be friends with the patient, dressed formally in suits and ties, couldn’t spare Ugx. 10,000 for the patient’s juice. They had traveled a long distance but only stayed for a short time, mentioning that they could have spent a little more time chatting with him to boost his spirits. Ssegirinya is in a foreign land where he rarely receives visits from familiar faces.

In response to the accusations, Ssenyonyi took to Twitter to admit visiting Ssegirinya briefly and addressing the purpose of his trip to Kenya. He claimed that their short visit was an opportunity to check on the health of their colleague, while also engaging with opposition MPs from Kenya to exchange experiences and offer mutual support.

“We have paid a brief visit to Hon. Ssegirinya at Aga Khan Hospital; we thank God he has improved greatly. We have also visited the opposition parliament in Kenya and shared experiences and encouraged each other on how to navigate the challenges we are grappling with in our two countries and parliaments,” Ssenyonyi tweeted.

Nonetheless, critics have questioned Ssenyonyi’s stance on parliamentary expenses, particularly pertaining to travel per diems. During a recent interview, he expressed concern over the alleged misuse of funds by other MPs. However, these same critics argue that Ssenyonyi and his fellow NUP Members should also be held accountable for accepting a per diem of five days each for a brief visit that ultimately served personal interests.

Psalms 41 begins by praising those who visit the sick; “Happy are those who are concerned for the poor; the Lord will help them when they are in trouble,” but immediately afterward narrates to us the complaints of a sick man who has received a visit: “Those who come to see me are not sincere; they gather bad news and then go out to tell everywhere. In Job 13: 4 he defines friends as Doctors who can’t heal anyone, the comfort given is only torment, and they cover up ignorance with lies.  And so were Ssegirinya’s friends in this case according to his caretakers.

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