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ChOGM: Let’s salute our growing institutions

By Vision Reporter

Added 16th February 2010 03:00 AM

For over two months now, the media, especially The New Vision, has been running a series of stories about senior government officials who allegedly stole billions of shillings during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting(CHOGM).

For over two months now, the media, especially The New Vision, has been running a series of stories about senior government officials who allegedly stole billions of shillings during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting(CHOGM).

By Obed K Katureebe

For over two months now, the media, especially The New Vision, has been running a series of stories about senior government officials who allegedly stole billions of shillings during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting(CHOGM).

The meeting took place in Kampala in November 2007.

On the whole the meeting was successful, although questions of financial mismanagement raised in the Auditor General’s report is quite tainting.

The exponential growth of the media in Uganda has reflected a dramatic increase in coverage of corruption-related issues. The rhetoric of political leaders to fight corruption has matched this increase and the effectiveness of the anti-corruption machinery is just beginning to bite. As a result, perception is more powerful than reality where corruption in Uganda is concerned.

Some pessimists have jumped onto the bandwagon to smudge the person of the President and his Government as a team that is not fighting corruption.

To begin with, the CHOGM irregularities were unearthed by competent government bodies, such as the Auditor General’s office, with the full blessings of President Museveni and the Cabinet.

It must be recalled that it is the President who re-appointed the Auditor General, John F.S. Muwanga, in 2007 after he had resigned his post citing poor pay. I am not suggesting that the President was doing Muwanga a favour, but the point is: because the President wanted a thorough officer for that post, he prevailed on his bureaucrats to change the rules such that Muwanga gets a deserved pay.

Muwanga has enjoyed independence while executing his work and that is why we are able to see such exposure even from members of the Cabinet.

Some sceptics will argue that much as the Auditor General has exposed crimes committed by the big fish in government, not enough punishment is likely to be effected to those found guilty.

In fact, some argue that Muwanga’s report will be stashed away to gather dust just like previous ones.

Much as this is partly true, we must recognise that the Government has to be cautious while handling these cases. Previously, the Government has lost lots of money to certain culprits because not enough diligence was done while apprehending the suspects.

Therefore, it would be unwise to push the Government into acting hurriedly to arrest culprits before carrying out investigations expeditiously, otherwise the Government is bound to doubly lose. Albeit such challenges, it is worth acknowledging that the Auditor General’s stance on senior government officials involved in graft is enough testimony that these institutions are working.

Another interesting aspect is the fact that a newspaper with government shares is the one leading in the unearthing of these shabby deals that were transacted during CHOGM. This shows that the Government is willing to fight corruption.

The public accounts committee members that include MPs from both the opposition and the ruling NRM seem to be in unison in exposing corrupt officials. Parliament should also be commended for its role.

Since it ascended to power in 1986, the NRM Government has had challenges ranging from ensuring minimum economic recovery to fighting negative forces.

As the Government has made effective transitions, we can be confident that the fight against corruption will come to pass, notwithstanding the participation of all Ugandans, the international community and the civil society.

The writer works at the Uganda Media Centre

ChOGM: Let’s salute our growing institutions

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