Tag Archives: Uganda corruption

Ugandan corruption report by HRW names Museveni

allAfricaPhoto: Future Atlas

Cape Town — A new report on corruption in Uganda names President Yoweri Museveni as one of those responsible for what it calls widespread “bribery, nepotism, and misuse of official positions and resources” in the country.

The report, published in Kampala on Monday, says that since Museveni came to power in 1986, “waves of scandals” have hit his administration.

“Members of his inner circle—from both military and cabinet—have been accused of theft and improper procurement of state resources by the media, civil society, the auditor general, and parliament,” the report says.

But despite “many plans and relentless promises… corruption in Uganda remains pervasive at both low and high levels of public administration… Only one minister has ever been convicted of a corruption-related offense, a verdict that was overturned on appeal just after the president publicly offered to pay the defendant’s legal costs.”

The report is based on research by the New York-based advocacy group, Human Rights Watch, and the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic of Yale University earlier this year.

It notes that media attention often concentrates on the “big fish who got away” but that the solutions proposed rely on “technical responses.”

“Those responses overlook what, based on past actions, can be described as the government’s deep-rooted lack of political will to address corruption at the highest levels and importantly, to set an example- starting from the top – that graft will not be tolerated,” the report goes on to say.

Among issues highlighted by the report:

The president and Parliament “have failed to empower key institutions, either by failing to fill key vacancies or by failing to establish institutions…”
High-ranking officials whose offices have been implicated in corruption often remain in their positions while individuals under them have faced prosecution and, in some cases, jail.
Lack of protection for witnesses and prosecutors has resulted in a focus on “low-level corruption involving small sums of money, while the ‘big fish’ have continued to accumulate wealth and power.”
The report adds: “In some Anti-Corruption Court cases involving well-connected individuals, senior officials have directed prosecutors to delay prosecution or prematurely try a case with incomplete or weak evidence.

“Investigators, prosecutors, and witnesses involved in such cases have been the targets of threats and requests for bribes.In some Anti-Corruption Court cases involving well-connected individuals, senior officials have directed prosecutors to delay prosecution or prematurely try a case with incomplete or weak evidence. Investigators, prosecutors, and witnesses involved in such cases have been the targets of threats and requests for bribes.”

In a press release accompanying the report, Human Rights Watch said it was based on interviews with 48 people “with substantive knowledge of anti-corruption efforts in Uganda” and on reports from local activists, foreign development partners and the World Bank.


UK suspends direct aid to Ugandan Prime minister’s Office over fraud

Guardian global development

The UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) has suspended £4m in aid to the Ugandan prime minister’s office and set up an independent audit to investigate alleged fraud.


DfID said it suspended the payment in August amid reports that money from several European countries had been funnelled into the private bank accounts of officials in Patrick Amama Mbabazi’s office. No British money was taken.


“We take these allegations extremely seriously and have already suspended UK aid to the office of the Ugandan prime minister. We have set up an independent audit to investigate alleged fraud,” DfID said.


The UK has already provided £14.2m in general budget support to Uganda this year, aid that goes directly to the Ugandan government. It is to disburse £2.6m in both December and February. On top of that, Britain gives £4m to the prime minister’s office every year, and it is that aid that is on hold until the investigation is complete.


“DfID Uganda, in collaboration with Uganda’s auditor general, has engaged a team of independent auditors to conduct a detailed forensic audit of funds disbursed to the office of the prime minister to safeguard our funds,” said DfID. “No aid will be reinstated until we are entirely satisfied that our aid is safe. If money has been misused, we will expect immediate repayment and will take all necessary action to protect our funds.”


The department said Justine Greening, the international development secretary, will look extremely closely at Britain’s aid to the Ugandan government, including the results of the audit, before the next decision on budget support disbursement in December. Total planned bilateral aid from Britain to Uganda in this financial year is £98.9m.


According to the Daily Mail, questions were raised when the Irish government was told by Ugandan auditors that its joint funding of €12m (£10m) with Norway, Denmark and Sweden had ended up in accounts belonging to the prime minister’s aides instead of going to pay for a “peace recovery and development programme” in northern Uganda after decades of conflict.


Ireland immediately halted further payments to Uganda pending investigation. The Irish foreign minister, Eamon Gilmore, has called the apparent theft “intolerable”. A team of officials, led by the evaluation and audit unit of Ireland’s department of foreign affairs, will try to establish exactly where the money is and if it can be recovered. Guardian

Uganda – oil, corruption and inequality

African Arguments by Angelo Izama

At Forest Mall, errand boys and girls for Kampala’s wealthy families dash back and forth. The Mall is part of a string of new developments providing office space for banks, coffee shops and expensive boutiques. A cashmere sweater at one of these upscale hangouts costs 1.2 million Ugandan shillings – rather more than the starting salary of a university graduate at one of the banks here. There are signs of affluence everywhere.
And signs of trouble too.
The acquired tastes of Uganda’s better-off classes contrast badly with its downtrodden masses. Recently, the government here has put its faith (and invited others to do the same) in newly discovered oil and gas reserves in the western part of the country. It is these future funds that are the promissory notes used by politicians, led by President Yoweri Museveni, to suggest a brighter future is nigh. An ambitious Vision 2040 was recently published by the National Planning Authority with promises of investment in highways, education institutions and new energy projects. On its glossy cover was a picture of a rocket, perhaps delivering the first Ugandan to the moon. The wet dreams of the government and the political class around oil resources are part of the disappointing story that underpins the rising tide of inequality in Uganda.
In Uganda, there is not one single public works project that has ever been finished on time or within budget. This is because a large part of the money paying for the country’s cashmere exhibitionists and hedonists is ‘borrowed’ from the taxpayer. Corruption around public works is a billion dollar industry. According to reviews of government business, between 500-950 billion shillings is lost in procurement0-related malfeasance. Transparency International (an NGO that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development) announced last month that Uganda was the most corrupt country in Eastern Africa. This illegal market is one cornered by politicians and civil servants.
Unsurprisingly, there is a debate on what this all means for public policy – especially since new wealth is possible with natural resources like oil. But it’s more than that. The underbelly of corruption in Uganda is not simply that it is tied to the politics of patronage, but rather that it is dependant on it. Corruption is not simply the great procrastinator of effective public policy (to which we will get shortly), nor is it simply simply abetted by the opportunities presented by official bureaucracy. The uptick of Ugandan corruption reflects the fears of the political class over the coming political transition, which heralds an uncertain period that may include change in the patronage networks. It is consequently not driven just by greed, but also by fear.
This is the real context of discussions over whether Uganda’s oil will be a blessing or a curse. By my calculations, if political transition from Museveni is placed on a timeline, it coincides almost exactly with Uganda’s transition to oil producer. Those within the oil sector predict the first commercial production will happen around 2017 or even 2020. By then Uganda will have a new President. Read more…