By Norbert Mao
The emotional tirade the president launched against the Inspector General of Government has reverberated across the nation. The president lamented the lack of public confidence in and the failures of the IGG. He has now announced that he will create an anti corruption unit under his office to ensure that all the presidential appointees, particularly those at the sub national level, perform their duties!
Scrutiny of all public offices, including that of the IGG, is in order. The public is right to be bitter about the vigilance with which the small fry are apprehended for corruption charges while the big fish go scott free. The IGG is however not a stand alone office. It depends on the public coffers to facilitate its functions. The total budget of the office of the IGG does not exceed 50 billion shillings. According to budget, the field offices of the IGG have two vehicles to serve ten districts . The operational funds of these ten districts per month is a paltry six million shillings. This translates to shillings 600,000/- per district per month. This in turn is equivalent to shillings 20,000/- per district per day! If this is the main arsenal to fight corruption, then stealing of impunity will continue.
But that is not the real problem. The real problem is that the fight against corruption is a mock fight. It is defined by noise and drama but of little effect. There’s no real political will to fight corruption. The president is surrounded by some of the most corrupt individuals and that makes him the Fountain of Corruption. Why else would he lament so much yet he has a lot of constitutional power to act against corruption? Above all, the impunity with which corruption goes is alarming and shows that the personal example so indispensable in fighting corruption is lacking. The bottleneck in the fight against corruption is at the top of the bottle.
This brings me to the revelations made by former minister Zoe Bakoko Bakoru that President Museveni called her and ordered her to allow a certain army officer to access 13 billion shillings from the National Social Security Fund. The money under classified expenditure was purportedly for building army workshops. No workshops were ever built.
Bakoko also made revelations about the arm-twisting of public officials. This is done through the deployment of informal staff by State House in public offices to coordinate these illegal activities. These informal staff whose presence strike terror in the hearts of public officers who know the real or apparent danger of defying the dictates of these well connected minions. The officials are then confined into mere paper pushers who act without question. Sometimes they also get some crumbs of the loot. They are captives whose only choice is to play ball or get framed. They either cooperate or turn a blind eye.
Many in government find themselves in this uncomfortable position. They however have a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. They will be sacrificed when they no longer serve the regime’s purpose. The agony of the late Teddy Seezi Cheeye is a case in point. He confessed on national television that he falsified accounts to cover up money from the Global Fund which he was ordered to divert towards Museveni’s campaign! Fictitious projects are announced with pomp as channels for siphoning public funds. When the deals are revealed, the pawns pay the price to assuage public anger. The fate of many previously powerful people is testimony of the brutality of this hydra of officially sanctioned corruption.
For Museveni corruption is not an end in itself. It is a means towards an end. The end is power retention. Yet for responsible citizens, the collapsing of formal State leaves in its wake a clique of self serving individuals with clashing interests. By destroying institutions, Museveni has cut the branch on which he is sitting. In the hour of need there will be no institutional defence mechanism for him. Eventually, the triple evils of corruption, cronyism and exclusive family rule will lead to state collapse.