By Independent Team
‘I have a copy of a document which was passed to me by the Speaker of Parliament. It is a petition through him to the House on the IGG. It details issues that require her personal presence; issues of her performance as IGG: her methods of appointment, promotions and demotions, termination of employees, transfers, witness protection and her leadership as IGG. There are allegations that Faith Mwondha manages the office of the IGG by feelings, revelations, rumours and divine premonitions. She needs to respond to these issues in person.’
When Justice Faith Kalikwani Mwondha addressed a press conference at the Inspectorate of Government’s boardroom on March 31 to explain why she refused to appear before the Parliament’s appointments committee which was to vet her reappointment as IGG, she posed a rhetorical question drawn from a verse in the Bible: ‘If God is for me, who can be against me?’
|Judges say IGG misread the law
Faces petition in Parliament
Over the last four years, Ugandans have gotten used to Justice Mwondha’s spiritual spells, some of which have spilled into the public domain as ‘testimonies’. Going by that, God could easily be on her side. Yet the current legal and political impasse that has torpedoed her reappointment to office indicates that perhaps there are far more forces arraigned against her than for her ‘ notwithstanding God’s side on this matter.
During her four-year tenure that began in 2005, Ms Mwondha has been the most visible IGG eclipsing her predecessors Jotham Tumwesigye and Augustine Ruzindana. She raised herself above reading corruption perception reports to investigating some political big fish that were hitherto deemed untouchable and has halted big projects she was convinced had been corruptly sourced.
This and her abrasive style brought her into conflict with many influential politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen. Her supposed but mistaken closeness to President Yoweri Museveni made her think of herself as above the rest, making her disrespect her colleagues who in turn have worked towards undermining her and probably eventually getting her out of the IGG job.
Justice Mwondha has locked horns with virtually everybody in cabinet and other government bodies. There is no doubt therefore that her woes could be emanating from those she has antagonised. She has locked horns with Vice President Gilbert Bukenya, Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi, former minister for Energy Daudi Migereko, Attorney General Khiddu Makubuya, and former Local Government minister Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire, Deputy Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, to mention a few.
Who wishes IGG out?
The Independent gives the list of very powerful persons in government who have had nasty wars with her and may not mind a change of face at the Inspectorate of Government:
IGG vs Minister Otafiire
Maj. Gen. Otafiire, now holding the Tourism, Trade and Industry docket, has had a long public fight with Mwondha over the redevelopment of Naguru/Nakawa housing estate into a 500 million pounds satellite city by the UK-based Comer Group trading as Opecprime Properties.
Otafiire signed the contract on behalf of government and immediately ordered the sitting tenants to leave. The tenants petitioned the IGG demanding compensation and resettlement. The IGG halted the project and wrote a report that was critical of the entire process and Minister Otafiire, prompting the latter to one time accuse Mwondha of making decisions while ‘drunk on wine’. Mwondha does not drink.
The tenants had also petitioned the High Court, but lost the case. Subsequently the High Court ordered them to leave the estate. Two weeks ago, the president quashed the IGG’s report and instructed the Comer Group to begin work.
There has been general sceptism about the project with many people questioning the incredible amounts being peddled by the promoters (500 million pounds), others alleging corruption in the award of the contract and claims that some powerful persons in the government are behind it.
IGG vs Attorney General Makubuya
According to our sources, Khiddu Makubuya has had a cold relationship with the IGG largely because of professional disagreement. However matters got to a head when the IGG wrote to the president and accused the Attorney General’s Office of colluding with unscrupulous persons to rob government of billions of shillings in civil suits. As a result, the president caused the interdiction of then Solicitor General (SG) Lucien Tibaruha and the Director of Civil Litigation Joseph Matsiko. It is said that Makubuya was not happy with the sacking of the duo.
The IGG also reportedly intervened in key decisions taken by the Attorney General (AG) and in all these cases she portrayed Makubuya as either incompetent or corrupt. For example, the IGG halted the AG from compensating former minority shareholders in the privatised Nytil with US $8 million.
In 2006, the minority former shareholders sued government for $3 million plus interest, damages and costs, and the figure came to US $13 million. The two parties entered a consent agreement as instructed by the AG and the figure was reduced to $8 million. The IGG intervened and accused then SG Tibaruha and then DCL Matsiko of mishandling the case.
The other case is that of former workers of Dairy Corporation who sued government for their terminal benefits. They entered a consent agreement with government entitling them to Shs 8 billion in terminal benefits. Privatisation Unit objected to the figure. The SG was asked to give his opinion and he advised that unless there was fraud, a consent judgment cannot be set aside.
The IGG intervened and accused the SG of corruption and mishandling of the case. However, the recent ruling of the High Court agreed with the SG’s position that the consent judgment cannot be overturned. Meanwhile, this case attracts Shs 480m per year in interest.
IGG vs Minister Migereko
In 2006 when the country was experiencing the worst power shortage, a Norwegian company Jacobsen Electro AS entered an arrangement with the government of Uganda to construct a 52 million Euros thermal power station at Namanve in Mukono to produce 50 megawatts to supplement the declining hydro power supply from Owen Falls Dam.
However, a local businessman Patrick Bitature who was fronting Electromaxx to compete with Jacobsen for the thermal power deal petitioned the IGG alleging irregularities. The IGG intervened and the project was halted for over a year. In her report, the IGG accused top Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) officials of corruption and advised that the Jacobsen contract be cancelled. However, then Energy Minister Daudi Migereko and his Permanent Secretary Kabagambe Kalisa defended the project.
Migereko exchanged bitter letters with the IGG and took matters to President Museveni. The president agreed with Migereko and threw out the IGG recommendations, and instead constituted another committee to investigate the matter headed by Vice President Gilbert Bukenya, Premier Apolo Nsibambi, AG Makubuya, then SG Tibaruha, and Kalisa.
The committee found no problem with the deal and gave a go-ahead. The plant was completed and launched by the president on November 5, 2008.
IGG vs DPP Buteera
According to very informed sources, the IGG has not been at a good working relationship with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Richard Buteera. The two have been disagreeing on the professional approach especially while handling criminal prosecutions. The DPP’s office has on several occasions complained about the IGG wanting to stampede them into cases that are not properly investigated or those where she is alleged to have personal interest. On being reminded that she cannot succeed, the IGG would reportedly threaten them; that she was going to report them to President Museveni.
IGG vs Deputy Speaker Kadaga
For some strange reasons the two women from Busoga do not see eye to eye. One commentator said that the two have an ego problem; each sees herself as the most influential woman in the Busoga region. Others however allege that their differences stem from the 1996 elections when Mwondha’s sister Irene Kalikwani contested against Rebecca Kadaga for Kamuli District Woman’s seat. Kadaga won the bitter contest. Kadaga has openly criticised the IGG for allegedly applying selective justice while investigating some officials in the Busoga region. She feels that the IGG targets those who support politicians she does not agree with.
IGG vs Premier Nsibambi
For some unknown reasons, the IGG has an issue with Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi. While appearing on Radio One recently, Mwondha castigated Nsibambi saying he had joined a group of her detractors.
IGG vs Parliament
For all the four years she has served as IGG, she consistently refused to appear before Parliament to answer audit queries regarding her office, instead preferring to send her deputy Raphael Baku.
Mwondha has continuously told MPs that it is not a constitutional obligation for her to appear before them. She once referred to them as ‘wicked fellows’. Last year, she had a stand-off with Parliament’s committee on legal and parliamentary affairs. She argued that the committee was full of members with wrong intentions especially then chairperson, Peter Nyombi, who once worked in the IGG’s office.
IGG Vs deputy IGG Baku
Mwondha has had a cold working relationship with her deputy Raphael Baku. It is said that the two do not talk; that each one does his/or her own work without consulting the other. As a result, these divisions have percolated in the rest of the office undermining teamwork. The most graphic demonstration of these differences was when Baku went before Parliament’s appointment committee and was vetted and reappointed as Mwondha insisted it was unconstitutional.
IGG vs the GAVI group
In as much as the IGG was right when she decided to prosecute former Health ministers Jim Muhwezi, Mike Mukula, Alex Kamugisha and president’s aide Alice Kaboyo for allegedly misappropriating GAVI funds, the way she went around the whole thing raised a lot of question marks. She seemed to be acting on behalf of the president.
Instead of letting the Attorney General’s office together with the DPP execute the legal battles, Mwondha decided to take on the exercise single handedly making it appear personal.
She failed to understand that the so-called culprits were highly connected and therefore nothing significant was bound to happen to them after all. To many Ugandans this was a gimmick by President Museveni to show that he was fighting corruption or to prune political enemies. And as it turned out the whole thing is currently dying a natural death.