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Uganda's big corruption scandals

Whereas the bicycles were being sourced from India, the advance payment was drawn in cash from a local bank in Uganda.

This came to public attention in 2011. Several ministers, including former Vice-President, Gilbert Bukenya, Prime Minister 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 included the former director of economic affairs in the President’s Office, Teddy Cheeye and former production manager of Uganda Television, Fred Kavuma, who served prison sentences in Luzira Prison over the scam.

Although many of the people were absolved of wrongdoing by court, Mike Mukula was found to have 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 had committed $5.1b in grants to more than 130 countries to fight the three diseases.

Valley dam scandal 

THE works minister criticised former vice-president Dr. Specioza Wandira Kazibwe for constructing a sh800m valley dam in Mbarara, which had not been of use. While touring Isingiro county, John Nasasira made a brief stopover at the empty Nyarubungo valley dam.

Nasasira asked how can you give thirsty people a pot without water? Kazibwe had constructed the Nyarubungo dam but seven years later there was no drop of water in that dam. Nasasira was accompanied by MPs Nathan Byanyima (Bukanga), Maj. Bright Rwamirama (Isingiro north) and Mbarara resident district commissioner Clement Kandole.

While serving as the minister for agriculture, animal industry and fisheries in 1999, Kazibwe was blamed for misusing nearly sh3b meant for the construction of valley dams across the county. Kazibwe, however, denied the accusations.

Nasasira said the Nyarubungo dam was in a wrong location because it was constructed in an area without water catchment. He advised the dam be relocated.

Temangalo 2008

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 the company reportedly produced only 400 cards. Parliament learnt that the Government borrowed over sh150b to finance the project, which never kicked off. According to the PAC, contracting the firm resulted in a financial loss of sh19b.

The ministers implicated included former general duties minister, Kiddu Makubuya, former internal affairs minister, Kirunda Kivejinja and the local government Permanent Secretary, Steven Kagoda.

This article was originally published on New Vision.


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