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Ssegirinya’s Largesse: Why It’s Impossible to Sieve Lies from Real Projects

Ssegrinya has made tens of promises, capturing imaginations of many and winning plaudits on social media. But it’s hard to evaluate projects that Ssegrinya has posted or promised on social media when he isn’t interested in giving the evaluation himself.
04 Aug 2021 11:35
Ssegrinya's Kawempe North Medical Center. Photo from Ssegrinya's Twitter Handle
Kawempe North Member of Parliament, Muhammad Sssegirinya who was indisposed shortly after the February 14th, 2021 polls made a surprise turn up for his swearing-in ceremony on May 20th. He is a legislator who people thought would miss. After taking oath, Ssegirinya made a promise that he would give the Shillings 200million allocated for the purchase of his vehicle as a legislator to his constituents through his Seg-Box initiative. Each family would receive 100,000Shilling, he said.

  Seg-Box is a wooden box that is traditionally used for saving by poor families. The box has a small rectangular hole through, which one deposits money and can't be removed without breaking the box. Ssegirinya said buying a car when his constituents are living in poverty is “extravagance of the highest order.” He equated it to the extravagance of the French Monarch that sparked the French revolution of 1789.

“They were busy buying cars when their people were suffering in poverty,” Ssegrinya opined, referring to the French Monarch. Though the monarch was extravagant, their overspending was never depicted by the purchase of cars because they were non-existent. That was the beginning. Since then, Ssegirinya has made tens of promises, capturing the imaginations of many and winning plaudits on social media. But it’s hard to evaluate projects that Ssegrinya has posted or promised on social media when he isn’t interested in giving the evaluation himself. And he did not grant URN an interview.  

  What has he promised? An orphanage, a medical center, a second ambulance, which he claims has been moving across the country chauffeuring patients to hospitals, small mattresses for kids at Kawempe Hospital, two kilograms of baking flour for all Chapati makers in his constituency, a technical institute, charcoal, door to door food distribution and bus among others.    

A Medical center    

Located a few meters off Gayaza Road, opposite Akwamwesi Shopping Mall in Kyebando, Kawempe North Medical Centre is slowly taking shape. And it has become Ssegrinya’s main project. When URN reporters visited the medical center on Tuesday, July 16th 2021, Alex Luwembo, who introduced himself as Ssegirinya’s Personal Assistant took our reporters on a guided tour of the facility. There were two admission rooms with four beds, a doctor's room and a pharmacy section that had a few medicine packages. A red tent that will serve as the reception has also been erected in the compound.  Then there is a “presidential ward,” a small upstairs room that Ssegirinya says will serve as a ward for the National Unity Platform President, Robert Kyagulnayi aka Bobi Wine.    

Constituents staying adjacent to the medical facility were full of praise for Ssegirinya though they never wanted to be recorded.  “You can see, the hospital is here, it's free of charge. It's an opportunity for us women to give birth to many more kids. When you're pregnant, you come here for antenatal services, when you want to give birth, you come here. It's free,” the woman seemingly joked.   “Didn’t you see the hospital? No one should say it doesn’t exist. Hon Ssegirinya brought two trucks full of medicine. He is even bringing more,” said another man. “There is a lot that all other MPs must learn from Ssegirinya.”     

Ssegrinya has continued to post social media updates on new equipment at the facility. When URN tried to make a second visit on July 30th 2021, they were told by a nurse the facility has started operating and all questions to do with the medical center should be channelled to the MP’s office. Our reporters were not allowed to do a second tour.   

But Ssegirinya has never posited the location of the medical facility on social media. And phone numbers inscribed on his medical center buildings are his personal numbers, which is indicative that a patient who doesn’t know its location has to go through him to access it.

Ssegirinya also continues to post photos on social media, which aren’t of his medical facility such as a photo of hospital beds, or another photo of hospital equipment he didn’t name and another photo of advanced hospital equipment. Our reporters were quick to discern that the photos weren’t from Ssegirinya’s medical center because they were taken in a room with wood tiles yet none of the rooms at his medical facility had wood tiles when URN visited it on July 16th 2021.  



What else isn’t clear 
 

Ssegirinya’s UBJ 574Z ambulance is well known because he posted it several times on social media. What is unclear is the second ambulance that he claims to be moving across the country chauffeuring patients to hospitals. Ssegirinya first tweeted a photo announcing the purchase of a second ambulance on June 20th.

However, it was quickly discovered that the photo had been picked from the Facebook page of a Kenyan company, Somi Enterprise. The second and what is still the last post about the second ambulance came on June 23rd, when Ssegirinya was showing how the ambulance looked like inside.  

Ssegirinya also posted photos of his Kawempe sewing Center but it was later found out that the photos had been picked online. They had been published in a story about a Zambian charity. And five chapati makers in Kyebando said they had not received baking flour from Ssegirinya, indicating that his post of every chapati maker in Kawempe North Constituency receiving two kilograms of baking flour was inaccurate.

When told Ssegirinya was posting some photos that weren't from his projects, National Unity Platform Spokesperson, Joel Ssenyonyi said “I don’t know. You should look for him and ask him, I have not been to that hospital. I don’t know.” 

     

MPs are for legislation not building hospitals
   

It’s not the role of MPs to build hospitals and buy ambulances but when a state is nonfunctional, voters reward MPs for providing such services, David Pulkol, Executive Director of Africa Leadership Institute and Joel Ssenyonyi say.   

“If people are accessing hospitals through an ambulance provided by an MP, we know that citizens consider that when they are electing an MP,” Pulkol said. “It’s not enough to speak in parliament, ask questions and pass laws but because of the dysfunctional of the state.”   

Africa Leadership Institute has been evaluating MPs’ performance. In subsequent evaluations, he said they will take into account MPs activities in the constituencies. “We are going to introduce a community scorecard; we want to see how citizens will score their MPs at the constituency level while we score MPs at parliament and committee level. We will be publishing both constituency and parliament scores.”

 

What Ssegirinya is doing in his constituency, Ssenyonyi says, is what the party has been advocating for and it’s what the majority of NUP Members are doing in their constituencies. “The advantage Ssegirinya has is that he has a huge following on social media, which he has built over the years. He is a celebrity in his own right,” he said.

“That is why it's easy for the things he is doing to be noticed on social media because he puts them out there and he has a huge following.”    

   

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