Museveni the problem
An official in the IG who preferred anonymity told The Independent that the President has on many occasions blocked investigations into corruption. According to the official, that makes Museveni part of the reason anticorruption institutions and laws fail.
“He has told us to back off some cases mid-way investigations, some when we are about to finish. He himself protects some people. How do you expect us to move? Fighting corruption is not speaking and threatening; it’s action,” the official said.
The official predicted that the 2018 rankings will show Uganda has worsened. He said even when the amended Leadership Code Act comes into force in March, the tribunals needed for it to bite have not been formed.
According to the 2017 amendment, in addition to key civil servants and Members of Parliament declaring their wealth in terms of buildings, companies, land and others, they will this time have to declare their cash at hand from Shs5million and above. But many are expected not to comply. And the IGG is toothless without tribunals, according to a 2010 ruling by court in which former MP Ken Lukyamuzi defeated the IGG. Court ruled that the IGG had thrown him out of parliament wrongly over failure to declare his wealth in 2005 because the IGG is not the tribunal.
“We will ask them to declare the money but some will want to hide. How are we expected to verify that with utmost accuracy? As you know Uganda is a cash economy. Big monies exchange hands without signing any document or going to the bank. We don’t use credit cards,” the official said.
Kagaba of ACCU told The Independent on Nov. 06 that Museveni’s pledge to pay legal fees for then jailed Junior Health Minister Mike Mukula who had been found guilty of embezzling GAVI funds to be freed was wrong.
“He also said he knows the corrupt officials who solicit money from investors. Six months later, no names have been exposed yet. All they say is that there is political will but this will should be about people seeing corruption levels going down,”Kagaba said.
Kagaba says Museveni rides on political patronage and “mafias” will thrive since they run to the President for protection. She says Museveni’s hands are tied and he cannot afford annoying them.
“We would expect ministers implicated in these commissions and investigations to step aside. That’s what happens in countries like Denmark, Finland and Switzerland whose CPIs are good,” Kagaba said.
“When they are investigated by the IGG, the president comes in to block. Their (IG) hands are tied too,” she said and pointed at countries in the region that are beating corruption.
Kagaba says Museveni comes up with new laws and amendments not to curb corruption but to make it hard for the big wigs to be implicated. She said the amendment of the Leadership Code Act last year weakened it when they exempted spousal properties from being considered when auditing the assets of public officials.
She said the government would be recovering big monies if legally established institutions like the IG, the Office of the Auditor General, PPDA and the Anti-Corruption Court were allowed to conduct their mandates independently and allocated enough resources instead of setting up units with unclear departments that duplicate responsibilities and waste taxpayers’ money.
Beyond the big monies
The IGG has been criticized for pursuing small cases instead of going for the big wigs. But an official at the IG told The Independent that it is a deliberate strategy because they might never bring the big wigs to book. Instead, the IGG believes, it is important to make people understand the true cost of corruption so that they can report culprits right from the grassroots. That strategy was behind this year’s anti-corruption day theme of `Winning the fight against corruption; a sustainable path to Uganda’s transformation”.
The official said that it is a mistake to limit assessment of the cost of corruption on big monies and big names. Take the case of the recent tragedy on Lake Victoria where over 30 lives were lost because someone was allowing an unlicensed boat on the water or when a nurse gives a child half a dose of vaccine so she can use one for two children and sell the other. What are the health outcomes and the life-long impact that may have?
Uganda’s CPI against others in the region in the last five years