UGANDA - The cost of corruption is huge. Starting this week, we are joining other NGOS across the country to mourn gross theft of public funds by government funds. Our offices will be closed for 3 days between Nov. 12 - Nov 23, 2012. We look back at nine graft scandals that have tossed Uganda here and there in the recent past.
Common Wealth Head of Governments Meeting (Chogm) 2007
This came to public attention last year (2011). Several ministers, including former Vice-President, Gilbert Bukenya, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and former state minister for works and transport, John Byabagambi, were implicated in the mismanagement of billions of public funds meant for the 2007 CHOGM summit.
Others implicated were ministers John Nasasira, Mwesigwa Rukutana and Isaac Musumba. Although Parliament allocated sh270b to the summit, the Auditor General discovered that more than sh370b was spent.
The figures went up to sh500b after parliamentary accounts committee grilled those who spent the funds.
The probe, commissioned by President Yoweri Museveni, found out that money was lost in irregular procurement of the CHOGM cars, road construction and repairs, and the renovation of Entebbe Airport, among other ventures.
Several permanent secretaries interrogated claimed they had acted on orders from former Vice-President Gilbert Bukenya, who was the chairman of the Cabinet sub-committee on CHOGM.
Prof. Bukenya was accused of influence-peddling in the sh19b CHOGM car deal, but later court acquitted him.
Global Fund 2008
At the time of investigations, $10m (sh25b) was missing, although some sources put the figure at $37 (sh95.8b).
The money was meant for malaria and tuberculosis drugs programmes. The scandal sucked in former health minister Jim Muhwezi and his then deputies Mike Mukula and Alex Kamugisha.
Some of the known culprits include the director of economic affairs in the President’s Office, Teddy Cheeye and former production manager of Uganda Television, Fred Kavuma, who are currently on remand in Luzira Prison over the scam.
Although many of people have since been absolved of wrongdoing by court, Mike Mukula was told recently that he has a case to answer.
The scandal centered on a new unit within the Health Ministry, known as the Project Management Unit (PMU), through which the money was siphoned to about 400 private organizations many of which existed only on paper.
Investigations revealed that PMU paid grossly inflated salaries to its 15 professionals and 20 support staff, who often doubled their take home pay with generous and largely undocumented expense allowances.
Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has committed $5.1b in grants to more than 130 countries to fight the three diseases.
NSSF-Temangalo saga came to light in July 2008, when reports emerged that Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, then security minister and Amos Nzeyi had been paid sh11b by the Fund for 414 acres of land, with each acre going for sh24m.
It was reported that the price was higher than that on the market, resulting into the Fund losing billions of shillings.
Knight Frank put the price of an acre in the area at sh18m, East African Consulting Surveyors at sh16m and Associated Consulting Surveyors at sh14m.
NSSF decided to go for what it called an open market price of sh24m. The Parliamentary probe found that Mbabazi used his clout as security minister to force NSSF to purchase his land.
In its majority report, the parliamentary committee investigating the matter concluded that indeed Mbabazi and Ezra Suruma had violated sections of the Leadership Code.
ID Scandal 2010
In February, 2010, the Government entered a deal with Mühlbauer, a German firm, to supply national IDs. Muhlbauer High Tech was allegedly contracted without open bidding as required by law.
The company was to supply and install equipment for production of the identity cards. The IDs were supposed to be used to identify eligible voters during the 2011 elections.
But by February last year, the company had reportedly produced only 400 cards. Parliament learnt that the Government borrowed over sh150b to finance the project, which has never kicked off.
According to the PAC, contracting the firm resulted in a fi nancial loss of sh19b.
The ministers implicated include former general duties minister, Kiddu Makubuya, former internal affairs minister, Kirunda Kivejinja and the local government Permanent Secretary, Steven Kagoda.
Amman Industrial Tool and Equipment Ltd, a locally-registered company, was contracted by the Ministry of Local Government to supply 70,000 bicycles meant for LCs, but no single bicycle was delivered.
The company was reportedly paid $1.7 million (about sh4b).
Microfinance and Specioza Kazibwe 2011
Sh60b went missing from Microfinance Support Centre in a record three months.
Former Vice-President Dr. Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, who was the board chairperson, was subsequently suspended over allegations of abuse of office and mismanagement in the office she assumed in 2008.
Others board members who were suspended are MP Tim Lwanga, Mutebi Kityo, Charles Ogol from the finance ministry and Twino Musinguzi.
President Yoweri Museveni started the institution in 2003, to ensure Ugandans accessed funds for poverty reduction in their households.
Hassan Basajjabalaba compensation scandal 2011
Sh169b was ‘erroneously’ issued to city tycoon Hassan Basajjabalaba as compensation for the loss of business for the city markets last year.
Two ministers, Syda Bbumba of finance and attorney general Khiddu Makubuya, were axed alongside three members of staff at State House on the matter.
However, the Government exonerated the Bank of Uganda governor, Tumusiime Mutebile, of any wrongdoing in the compensation.
Pension’s scandal 2012
Sh169b meant to clear outstanding pension claims of 1,018 former East African Community workers went missing between February and October last year.
The money is said to have been siphoned through Cairo International Bank, with connivance from top employees of the ministries of public service and finance.
Peter Sajjabi, the East African Community Beneficiaries Association general secretary, admitted to the Police that he had recommended the 1,018 names, which he said were passed on to him by the Ministry of Public Service, to Cairo International Bank for account opening.
Prime Minister’s Office 2012
The principal accountant in the Prime Minister’s Office, Geoffrey Kazinda, was recently remanded to Luzira Prison in connection with the disappearance of sh5b.
The money, meant for the Peace Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda, was reportedly transferred to the Crisis Management and Recovery account, from where it was siphoned.
Kazinda has been charged before the Anti-Corruption Court with abuse of office, causing financial loss, embezzlement, false accounting and forgery.
Following the development, three donor countries cut aid. The British government, Denmark and Ireland have frozen development aid to the Office of the Prime Minister.
Additional source: New Vision