By Julius Odeke
Raphael Baku whose contract as deputy Inspector General of Government ended in February spoke to The Independent’s Julius Odeke about the challenges of the office and his plans for the future.
What was the most challenging issue for you when you were the Inspector General of Government (IGG)?
I cannot not say there is a problem in IGG’s office except the office has been so much politicized. Many of the top people in the country are politicians so they try or want to influence the working operations of the IGG’s office. That affects our work.
What about funding? Does the government give the IGG’s office enough money every year?
The funds allocated to the office of IGG is very little and cannot allow the office to run effectively when you compare it with the cases that it receives. Government should allocate more money for this office to run effectively without manipulation from the public. This has been one of our biggest challenges.
Why should the cost of fighting corruption be more than the amount of money embezzled?
Government can spend say Shs10 million in order to investigate the loss of Shs5 million and the public may say that government is wasting money. It is not. It may seem like wasting resources but you are setting a precedent for the rest. It shows the rest that the moment you steal government funds you will be pursued. In that way the government will have averted many corrupt activities before money is lost. It is like you are saving today for the future benefit.
The IGG’s office complains of under staffing. How has it affected the work in that office?
The IGG is extremely understaffed when you compare it with other countries in East African most especially Tanzania. We are meant to have 400 staffs but have only 300 staffs. There are 16 regional offices countrywide but we don’t have staff to post into those offices.
What should IGG do in order to restore public confidence on the institution?
We have the best laws but the only problem is that they are not fully enforced. The moment these laws are fully enforced then the public will have confidence in IGG’s office and government as a whole. When you look at corruption which is the biggest threat to this country’s economy and service delivery, the society seems to have largely accepted bribery, embezzlement, causing financial loss, false accounting, influence peddling, nepotism to mention a few, corruption as a way of life. As IGG we are sensitising the public to resist all these temptations.
What is your comment on alleged selective prosecution of offenders by the IGG’s office?
Everyone talks of selective prosecution whenever their person or relative is prosecuted but most of these cases or persons, for example Soroti Municipality MP Mike Mukula, are convicted by a competent court. The public needs to know is that it was not Mukula alone who was found guilty, even Alice Kaboyo, the State House employee was found guilty but after realising her mistake she quickly pleaded guilty and this made court lenient on her.
Court did not find enough evidence to convict Jim Muhwezi and Dr Alex Kamugisha. There was no selective prosecution but it was a complex case because three persons come from one region and they were exonerated while Mukula, who hails from Teso, was found guilty and convicted to four years into Luzira Prison. That does not mean the matter was handled in a selective manner.
How can the Public Service sector be strengthened in the fight against corruption?
When some public service officials are convicted to jail like has happened to many staffs in the Office of the Prime Minister and in the Ministry of Public Service, then the remaining ones will execute their duties with utmost honest because they know that the moment they get themselves involved in corrupt acts then they too will follow the same route.
Where is your next destination?
My contract has ended and I am ready for face whatever I meet on my way. As a lawyer I should be able to open a legal firm so that I will continue serving the public on legal issues. Then also, before being appointed deputy IGG, I was a Member of Parliament where I represented the people of Moyo West in Moyo district. It will not be wrong for me to go and ask for their mandate since they know my ability to work. I am not ruling out serving as a High Court judge in case the appointing authority re-deploys me.
What has been your biggest achievement as IGG?
I want to discharge the claim that I have been working under the influence of either political or other interests. I have done my best to perform the responsibilities of the Inspectorate of Government in accordance with the law in spite of the difficult circumstances I was in. Then I also worked alone as acting IGG when we should have been three.
I think we have raised the stakes for the IGG. I think I have been as professional as I can be and that is what I should be remembered for. For my entire work period in the office of IGG, I have prosecuted over 150 cases, more than any other Ombudsman. And as I am leaving this office, I have not attained any wealth; I purely served as the people’s servant. I am not rich, but neither am I poor.
Talking of wealth; how does it affect your office when some public servants fail to declare their wealth?
Declaring assets is provided for under the Leadership Code and that is why John Ken Lukyamuzi was stopped from representing the Rubaga South seat in 2006. Later, later after feeling the pinch, he declared his wealth to the IGG.
But does IGG publish such assets which have been declared by the said officers? If not what happens?
We do not publish the declared assets in media since there is no provision for it under the Leadership Code but the declaration is supposed to be made public so that it can be assessed by the public when requested for from IGG in the form prescribed by the code.
How has been your relationship with your successor, Justice Irene Mulyagonja?
Irene is a very nice officer to work with. My work relations with the staff here in the IGG has been good and cordial. We consult one another. Our desire is to produce results that the public will appreciate; that has been our yardstick. One bad thing; this office will remain vacant since the deputy has not been approved.