Fighting Corruption: A Tall Order in Uganda

Published on 6th October 2009

His Excellency president Museveni, has on different occasions, in different fora said that the NRM government is committed to fighting corruption. In his state of the nation address on June 4, 2009, the president talked about corruption and clearly emphasized his government position of zero tolerance for corruption. The opposition members of parliament and some Ugandans did not take him seriously alleging that he had failed to portray his political will to fight corruption in the country. 

Whenever the president is asked to prove his commitment in the fight against corruption, he says that the NRM government has established institutions to fight corruption, such as Inspector General of government, Directorate of public prosecution, Auditor General Office, public Accounts committee of the parliament and newly established anti- corruption court.  

Although Ugandans applaud the good job done by these institutions in fighting and exposing corruption, nevertheless, they have largely failed to bring the exposed corruption cases to their logical conclusion. Cases of files disappearing mysteriously have become normal phenomena in Uganda.  

On Monday, June 22, 2009, members of parliament sitting on the public accounts committee (PAC) were told that the file on the police inquiry into army officers, who fraudulently took over U Shs 3 billion meant for the army uniforms had gone missing from the office of the Director of public prosecutions. Before that, Pac had ordered the CID to investigate the circumstance under which the UPDF paid 2.8 billion shillings to Eladam enterprises, a local textile firm, despite its failing to supply the army uniforms. 

The CID carried out investigations and completed its work well. The file was sent to the DPP to indicate the army officers who were involved in the scam. However, todate, the file is missing. This means that, the corrupt army officers who misused our public funds for their selfish gains, cannot be brought before the courts of law and they are now walking scot-free. Ugandans want to know the effort that is being done to ensure that public funds misused by the military are recovered.  

Fighting corruption entails being transparent and accountable. Whoever claims to be against corruption must exercise a high degree of transparency and accountability. According to the Auditor Genera’s report for the financial year ending June 2007, Uganda government lost over 620 billion shillings that it loaned to various private investors and state enterprises. Those who borrowed the taxpayer’s money through the Apex scheme have up to now failed to fulfill their obligations of paying back the borrowed money. What effort is the presidency taking to recover these debts? Which criteria does the government use to select the beneficial ties of such loans?  

The President personally directed Bank of Uganda to bail out Mr. Bassajja balaba with 21 billion shillings in 2004. Has he paid back this money? 

The billions of shillings which have over the years been injected in the Naads programs have largely been stolen by the Naads officials. There is very little impact of this money on the ground. Public institutions are pilfering with impunity. To put a stop on this, there ought to be a public execution of corruption culprits; selling of assets of corruption culprits to recover the stolen funds; freezing of their Bank accounts both at home and in foreign countries and imprisoning them for life. When these measures are put in practice, corruption in Uganda will be curbed, and Uganda will start experiencing rapid economic growth and development.

Fellow Ugandans, a corrupt free society is good for all of us and for our future generations. Let’s say No! to corruption. 

By Hategeka Moses

Ugandan based Governance researcher and activist.


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