By Lawrence Ssentongo
In Uganda, few people would disagree with the statement that corruption is the most institutionalized vice in the country.
If there is anything that has weakened President Museveni’s grip on power, it is the consequences of corruption which have denied the ordinary person basic services such as medicines, roads, water, education et al, as well as curtailing the rate of building factories which would employ youth, who are now almost burning down the country. Sadly, those in power swim in money.
Mr Museveni would imagine the office of the inspectorate of government was created to check corruption and its agents, and ending the vice would at least leave him some popularity.
However, many years down the road, corruption in Uganda goes on unabated. The image of the IGG in Uganda is that of a person who fights antelopes in the wild while leaving the dangerous predators at large.
Mr Museveni looked to Mr Mulyagonja to stand firm before powerful corrupt individuals instead of being cowed by the powerful corrupt mafia which had just beaten Mr Raphael Baku and before him, Faith Mwondha, hands down.
A High Court Judge from the Commercial Court Division Mulyagonja came with a strong recommendation from people such as the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga. Kadaga and Mulyagonja were part of the women’s movement in Uganda, and had actually done post graduate studies in the same University of Zimbabwe.
Museveni hoped, this time, Mulyagonja, would save him the outcry of corruption sinking the country. It has not been the case with two years left for her to say good bye.
Irene Mulyagonja’s legacy however is going to be that of the IGG who forced her appointing authority to form a parallel office to monitor corruption.
However one would say, why wouldn’t Museveni just fire Irene Mulyagonja and appoint someone he believes is up to the job.
However, Mr Museveni cannot contradict himself with appointing an independent IGG, and also have the guts to fire her midway her contract.
It has been six years on the job, so little has been achieved and the IGG herself admits being overwhelmed by the job.
So many cases of corruption are reported to her office, and to be sincere, the number is still a fraction of the corruption which takes place within Ugandan borders.
With a poor track record of investigations, it is however difficult for any officer to nail the smart and powerful corrupt, save for the small fish who the IGG has been able to take to court and still spend billions of money without nailing convictions since the arrested were the wrong people in the first place.
In his state of the nation address, Mr Museveni said he was forming the parallel Anti corruption structure because he believed the IGG needed to reflect on her role and mandate.
“What happened to the IGG? Why don’t the victims of corruption report those incidents to the office of the IGG? That was the purpose of that office; to protect the public from corrupt officials; to protect the investors against corrupt officials. The IGG should reflect on this. Are her staff credible? Why does the public not trust that institution? We need answers,” Museveni said. The president named greed and selfishness as the main causes of the failures of the IGG.
Yet, he could still not fire the IGG without being misunderstood. And Mulyagonja knows that she has to serve out her term, and protect people in similar situation. This was the first time the president had publicly attacked the IGG’s incompetence in public. And Museveni is known for attacking publicly people he can do little about given circumstances of their appointment.
Inside sources however have since told this website why Mr Museveni is itching to see Mulyagonja finish her second term and go.
The 49 year old Justice is part of the women movement circle occupying powerful positions and if anyone touched one, it is the job of the others to raise alarm. Her associations with Speaker Kadaga, who Museveni needs for his political maneuvers in parliament say a lot on the president’s turning the blind eye, while getting other agencies finishing the job Mulyagonja has failed to deliver.
With billions of shillings blown away since her appointment in 2012, the thousands of cases reported sit as statistics on shelves, and frustrations have sunk as IGG gets distracted from serious thieves and focuses on non entities.
A report of the financial year 2016/17, for example, 2,976 corruption complaints were lodged with the IGG office, however, the IGG only prosecuted 40 cases and only landed 24 convictions and recovered Sh718 million. For your information, the IGG office receive about sh34 billion.
Mr Museveni has therefore continued complaining about the corrupt, for example frustrating investors especially Chinese, Indian and American investors, and has said in several foras that he is ready to receive the complaints.
This points to the bigger problem.
With very little to show for the billions of shillings, President Museveni is itching to find a more effective ombudsman in the next two years to ensure he saved his legacy – because he knows unless he checks corruption there is little he can do about transforming Uganda into a modern state.
Unfortunately for Mr Museveni he doesn’t have so many options with Mulyagonja unless she willingly resigned from her position, which reports indicated he signaled to her to do so but she wouldn’t.
Ms Mulyagonja argues that her office is under funded and that was why little is achieved…but again, she continued to pick her sh18 million a month happily and go to bed satisfied.
Some of the landmark cases Ms Mulyagonja will be remembered for is the infamous Katosi Road involving former minister Abraham Byandala, Eutaw bosses such as Apollo Senkeeto, and former UNRA such Kimeze, whose prosecution is largely interpreted as conflicted given more high profile individuals involved but the IGG has never stretched her investigation beyond the obvious.
it is understood that the if the IGG had actually had a will to investigate corruption, she would have realized the tax payer is actually being fleeced by the new contractor who was paid sh350 billion when sh165 billion and would investigate what went wrong since the same road already off budget and a lot more money has been paid.
The aftermath of Katosi Road contract cancellation and prosecution of Eutaw officials, Americans having faced such unbelievable investment conditions decided to abandon all their operations in Uganda and returned back to Florida. The IGG had ordered for the confiscation of all of their construction equipment and had issued a warrant for their arrest. The Americans intended never to return to Uganda and considered their business investment as loss until their country representative Apolo Senkeeto was arrested and indicted by the IGG. The process lost much of their equipment and vehicles that were being used for the road construction.
Whereas the IGG was able to excite the local population with the indictment of then minister of works Abraham Byandala and others, the fact that the former minister was let off the hook by the Anti corruption court says so much about her investigations and the manner she does her work.
During his state of the nation’s address, president Museveni mentioned the appointment of a new Anti-corruption agency directly under state house. The IGG responded by saying that “I don’t think the unit would have capacity to investigate corruption. They don’t have the technical knowhow and experience or else will be swallowed by the corrupt. Little did the IGG know that she was merely resounding what her own failures had been. The IGG took on a job that not only did she have no experience at, but also lacked the technical know-how and experience. Consequently she was swallowed up by the most corrupt persons in Uganda.
Then, there is the case of Justine Bagyenda, the former executive director Bank of Uganda who was allegedly investigated by the IGG but whose case appears to be heading nowhere. Bagyenda hit the news after her multi billion bank accounts were leaked. Shocked banks didn’t know how to react but apologise to their clients and fire the suspects of the leakage. The country waited for IGG to declare her findings but till now nothing like it has ever come out.
In the meantime, committees of parliament such as COSASE under Abdu Katuntu was able to investigate roads money abuses and got money refunded by contractors, as well as Oil Handshake funds under the Uganda Revenue Authority stewardships. The committee of parliament without so much money and mandate such as the IGG was able to shake the foundation of corruption and brought back funds to the consolidated fund, but, IGG Mulyagonja is waiting for more funds to succeed in her work.