DO you remember, back in the day, a concept called “Term Eggenda” (pronounced ’Tamweggenda’)?
In my primary school days it referred to the very last day or night of the school term. It was a terrible time for some, and a terrific time for others.
That last day was euphoric, hysterical, and irrational just because the term was ending and everybody was going home – some for good, since they were changing schools or school levels or had been expelled, and others just for the break.
But that break, in those days, was long and disruptive for many reasons – since many of us left school and went long distances to our homes. Besides, we had neither phones (not even landlines, most of us) nor email, and were basically incommunicado till we got back during the next term.
That absence of what in Luganda we call ‘ensonyi‘ made us less likely to be abashed about our antics during ‘Term Eggenda’.
What a time!
Even ordinarily normal students appeared to lose their minds and went on rampage, beating up the young ones, destroying property and raiding suitcases for loot, to finish off every bit of grub left.
The term had ended, and there was no reason to go back home with any perishables – neither sugar nor soap – so we tried to quaff the lot.
There was no reason to go back home with grudges outstanding either, so the debts got paid off that day or night – in blows, kicks and various other forms of beatings.
You see, accompanying the euphoria of this being the last day of term we had additional motivation: even as primary school children we had worked out that the school administration was too distracted on that night trying to finalise our report cards, close the school, plan their own holidays, and so on and so forth.
The teachers and school administrators were always right there as the mayhem of ‘Term Eggenda’ took place, but they had other things on their minds. So they basically turned a blind eye on ‘Term Eggenda’.
Just like we appear to have had other things on OUR minds these past couple of weeks, and months.
That’s how we all missed that spot of ‘Term Eggenda’ that wiped billions (I am not certain of the actual figure) off the annual tax register, and kept it in the pockets of parliamentarians.
We are quite distracted with our non-ending political campaigning, public undressing protests, and also things that are most irrelevant to the general scheme of things.
Which is why that Bill got passed which, in effect, stops members of parliament from paying taxes on the allowances that constitute the bulk of their ‘earnings’, since their actual salaries ‘only’ amount to Ushs2.5million (it is said).
In the past I have seen it calculated that their earnings, in total, come to more than Ushs19million a month – if you add up a subsistence allowance of Ushs4.5million, extra constituency mileage of up to Ushs2.5m per month, town running Ushs1million, Ushs200,000 medical allowance, gratuity of Ushs3.5million, and around Ushs7.7million in an allowance that replaced the Constituency Development Fund.
Their argument for the tax exemption might sound sensible but we should find it hard to balance off the removal of what some claim is Ushs40billion (but still sounds bad even if it is Ushs4billion) in annual taxes just a week after the astonishing revelations at the Uganda Cancer Institute.
Luckily, even if the rest of us were too enthralled by nudes of varying presentation and excitement to intervene before the Bill was passed, it now goes to the President to either assent to or reject.
If we were not so distracted ourselves, we would find it hard to assent to the removal of taxes on the allowances of Members of Parliament while retaining the very same taxes on the allowances of the public in general.
But we ARE distracted, and the MPs who passed the Bill are going off on holiday, for a long, long, long time.
‘Term Eggenda’, quite literally.