Uganda: To Stop Corruption, Go the Rwanda Way
The Weekly Observer (Kampala)
10 September 2008
Posted to the web 11 September 2008
Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda
Senior and junior NRM cadres baying for Amama Mbabazi's blood are trying to settle old scores and their struggle has nothing to do with the fight against corruption.
Since when did abuse of office become a crime punishable by the NRM party? I think no sane Ugandan can accuse NRM of not being corrupt. In fact, what the country has been debating all along is whether there is political will at the highest level to fight it.
Almost all NRM senior leaders have in one way or another abused their offices and their juniors have benefited directly or indirectly. And because everybody else has sinned, there is no one remaining to cast the stone. With the current leadership at the helm of the ruling party, it is impossible to fight corruption or eliminate the corrupt.
You remember how Vice President Prof. Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya about two years ago threatened to spill the beans if those sending the IGG to photograph his pawpaw-wealth didn't stop it?
Bukenya felt persecuted when the IGG followed up on his few acquisitions yet other NRM dignitaries were hiding ill gotten property in Naguru and Nakasero.
That is the tragedy of this country. Calling people in public office to order is considered persecution because those doing it are also not clean. Problem is that the party owners and shareholders are not about to let their thing go just like that. You will remember the recent statement of the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima. They brought this government to power and will protect it.
Otherwise people like Prime Minister Prof. Apollo Robin Nsibambi are capable of eliminating abuse of office if they were the ones in charge. But of course that is the highest they can go.
The very MPs pursuing Mbabazi are not clean as they accepted a bribe in 2005 to change the Constitution to enable Yoweri Museveni rule for life.
So by getting National Social Security Fund (NSSF) buy his 400 acres of land at an abnormal price of Shs 11.2 billion, Mbabazi knows he has committed no crime punishable by his NRM party or its leadership. He has done what everybody else does or has done before.
President Museveni has already told you that they went to hunt for their animal and no noise should be made when they begin skinning it. That is why Mbabazi cannot resign. Like Bukenya, he too knows colleagues who have done similar deals and got away with it. You know when something is done everyday; people begin thinking it is normal. Otherwise a man as intelligent as Mbabazi would never have gotten involved in something that even Jim Muhwezi, the embattled former minister, sees to be wrong.
Maj. Gen. James Kazini, while testifying before the probe committee on ghost soldiers, revealed that some ghosts were official while others were not. What this meant was that some stealing in the Ministry of Defence, at that time headed by President Museveni, was sanctioned.
Therefore, those pushing Mbabazi are only interested in unseating him, mainly because he is an arrogant fellow who is extremely loyal to his boss. Interestingly, he is being told to resign and nobody is recommending prosecution for the wrong-doing.
If we want to stamp out corruption, we should go the Rwanda way. Suspect wealth must be confiscated by the state, sold and the proceeds invested in public utilities such as roads, health and education.
We know the monthly allowances of all our leaders. How come when they build or buy mansions in Kololo worth billions, we don't question it? Of course the ordinary person may not know it, but surely the man who runs our intelligence networks does.
That is one aspect I admire about Gen. Paul Kagame. Human rights violations, including very limited media freedom not withstanding, Kagame has built a reputation as a man who cannot tolerate corruption in all its forms. That is why the infrastructure in Rwanda, especially in the capital Kigali, is a talk of every visitor.
Kagame might be brutal in this and that but at least he loves his country. The fellows running our affairs simply don't love their country. That is why they are behaving like mercenaries who are hired and will return to their respective homes after the work is done.
The other day I was at Entebbe Airport and the veranda at the departure section done recently during CHOGM has started developing holes. The engineers who worked on it and those who supervised them would be in jail if they were in Rwanda. Mind you, the old veranda done during Idi Amin's time is still in good condition.
I therefore think Mbabazi will survive, not because he has not wronged, but because his pursuers are equally smeared and need someone else to clean them up.
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