By Hilary Onek
The 7th Parliament never asked Nandala Mafabi and others to step aside during investigations that they took millions in bribes from Mukwano
I could have chosen to ignore the article “Mbabazi, Onek playing bad model to young generation” (Sunday Monitor, December 11, 2011) but I will respond to it since the author, Darlington Sakwa, is one of those persons I regard highly because of their undisputed respectable professional record.
Just like many other people, I believe he has not got the truth behind the current political hot air, generated out of the fake documents tabled by MP Gerald Karuhanga (Youth West) on the floor of parliament on October 11, 2011. Sakwa should have noticed by now that since then, there have been inconsistencies and attempts by the promoters of this lie, to change or modify their positions to justify their claims. For Example:
The “bank transaction document” tabled in parliament was that Tullow Oil Company, transferred a total of Euros six million from their account at Bank of Valleta in Malta to “Hilary Onek’s Account No. 0344505627007” with the Emirate’s Bank, Dubai. Bank of Valleta denied the existence of the said Tullow Account and the alleged transaction. H. E. The President, the police and the Scotland Yard (UK) have these facts.
When they realised that the above document they relied on was being discovered to be fake, they changed statement to say the US Treasury department had a record of transaction from Tullow and that the money was with the Bank of Mellon in New York (The Observer, November 24 – 27, 2011). The Bank of Mellon also denied their new claims.
The Treasury Department in the USA that Karuhanga refers to is equivalent to our Ministry of Finance and it does not regulate banks in America. It is the Federal Reserve Bank of America, equivalent to our Bank of Uganda, which regulates the banks in USA that could have the kind of information. Here again the authority quoted by Karuhanga is misleading and not correct.
They also accused me of conniving with other ministers to allow construction of a crude oil pipeline from Eastern Congo to Mombasa “in order to undermine government policy of refining Uganda’s oil in the country, suspecting bribery in the deal, which to them is expected to cost Ugandans Shs. 8 trillion” (Daily Monitor and New Vision, Thursday, November 24, 2011). I explained to the Committee that MP Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri) and Karuhanga misrepresented the facts for their ill-intentions. The Congolese also have oil on their side of Lake Albert. Their government wanted a passage of their crude oil pipeline through Uganda and Kenya to the port of Mombasa. Therefore both governments have to consent to this. The Congolese pipeline was not intended for Uganda’s oil as we are to refine ours here.
Under these circumstances, I think we shall go on and on with the Karuhangas without end. I do not support corruption in anyway. I am on record and have been involved in battles with some of the most corrupt civil servants whose corrupted decisions have cost the government and the people of Uganda dearly.
Sakwa proposes that Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and I step aside to be good models to the young generation. Yes, this would be possible if some evidence of truth is there in the allegations. My conscience is very clear. I never took the alleged bribe. I consulted my voters who know me well and they stand by me in this political war.
In the 7th Parliament, when deliberating on Nandala Mafabi’s case and others, on distortion, fraud and stealing millions from Mukwano Industries as bribe to shield the company of tax liability, parliament resolved then, that any allegation brought before it should be credible and backed by facts. During the investigations, the Mafabis were never forced by parliament to step aside. It would be irresponsible to resign or step aside on false allegations. That would be setting a precedent that anyone could abandon responsibility on false unsubstantiated allegations. If allowed, then there will be no government in place, since opposition politicians would capitalise on it to access power, but even then they will not be able to keep power as similar allegation would also be raised against them and the cycle would continue.
It is becoming glaringly clear that what is going on in parliament is more of politics than fighting corruption. Politics is partisan under our system of governance, therefore parliament cannot be neutral and fair to surgically handle corruption. The way forward would be to empower the police and other institutions monitoring accountability in government and allow them to operate without parliamentary or other state interference.
Of recent, the police have made significant progress in the fight against corruption and can do more if supported. We parliamentarians should desist from claiming political credit where we have no input or contribution like in the UBC case. Many more investigated cases are to come and police should be allowed to do their work. For some parliamentarians claiming credit on police success is being opportunistically dishonest and interfering with the police work. This, in my view, is really playing bad model to young generation.
Eng. Hilary Onek is the Minister of Internal Affairs and Member of Parliament for Lamwo County