Kampala, Uganda: Uganda’s Fountain of Honor, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has come out boldly and urged the inspector general of government (IGG), Beti Kamya Turwomwe, not to compel soldiers and other security personnel to declare their wealth publicly under the Leadership Code of 2021, no matter what the law says.
The president said in a letter dated April 24, 2022, to the IGG that “the law must be in tandem, with logic.”
The letter was copied to the vice president, prime minister, and ministers of internal affairs and public service, among others. In the letter, Museveni said, “The logic is that the identities and details of army personnel should be the monopoly of the CPA (Chief of Personnel and Administration). Even he/she may not know all the details because it is dangerous to do so. The wealth, in terms of conduct of the personnel of the defence forces, is monitored by a wing of CMI (Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence). This wing is known as counterintelligence. Military intelligence gathers information about enemy armies and other enemy groups. On the other hand, counterintelligence gathers information about possible pollution of our own defence forces (enemy agents, political subversives, corrupt people).”
“Therefore, the IGG, if it is his/ her mandate to fight corruption in the defence forces as well, should work through CMI, and not directly. A similar arrangement should also be made for the police and ESO (external security organization). Police personnel are public officials. They are not so secretive. Should they have a separate, autonomous, mechanism? Let the Vice President, Prime Minister, Minister of Security, Minister of Internal Affairs, etc., discuss this,” Museveni added.
Interviewed last Monday, Munira Ali, the spokesperson of the Inspectorate of Government, said, “Let me confirm with her [Kamya] and I shall get back to you shortly.”
She hadn’t commented by press time.
The Leadership Code (Amendment) Act, 2021, makes it mandatory for all public officers to periodically declare their assets, incomes, and liabilities to the IGG. The act also recommends punishments for officials who either delay or declare false information.
The law recommends a warning, caution, dismissal or vacation of office by the public officer in question if he or she doesn’t declare wealth within the stipulated 60 days. Former Lubaga South MP Ken Lukyamuzi lost his seat in 2006 for not declaring his wealth to the IGG in time. Public officers were then supposed to declare their wealth every two years.
Gen Kahinda Otafiire, the minister of Internal Affairs, denied knowledge of the letter. He said, “I have not seen that letter! Don’t you see how stupid you are? I can’t discuss it with you because it is not a public document. If the president had wanted you to know, he would have published it.”
Asked whether the presidential order will be implemented, Otafiire added, “Please wait. Since I am the chairperson of the security committee, I shall convene the meeting to discuss and deliberate on that issue. We shall let the public know about this particular issue but as of now there is nothing, I can tell you,” he said.
However, Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye, the spokesperson of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces, confirmed that the army received the president’s letter last year. Without giving reasons, Kulayigye said the relevant authorities had not discussed the letter.
Asked whether Museveni’s directive is aimed at shielding officers from asset declaration and public scrutiny, Kulayigye added, “Although it is a presidential directive, it is not aimed at protecting any officers from declaring wealth. The asset and wealth declaration procedures are clear. Our officers have been declaring their assets. The Inspectorate has these records.”
“The president’s interpretation of the law is both acrimonious and mischievous,” said Medard Lubega Sseggona, the Busiro East member of Parliament. Sseggona noted that the declaration of assets and liabilities by any public officer (including security officers) to the IGG had nothing to do with national security.
“With this directive, the president is trying to protect either someone or some people. Aside from being a serving military officer, the person Museveni wants to protect is also a senior presidential advisor. Whatever the president wishes to do is very criminal. The president can’t overthrow the Constitution as he wishes. His directive should be ignored and treated with the contempt it deserves.”
Lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde said Museveni is exceptionally consistent in thwarting anti- corruption initiatives targeting his security apparatus because he uses corruption as a software of governance.
President Museveni sparked outrage in December 2021 when he warned IGG Beti Kamya that her planned lifestyle audit could force corrupt people to hide stolen funds abroad.
He said, “The lifestyle audit is good, but be careful because we are still lucky that our corrupt people are corrupt here. The thieves who steal government money are still investing it in Uganda by building five-star hotels. But if they realize that their lifestyle is being audited, they will instead take what they stole abroad, and it will be hard to track them.”
Museveni was speaking at a function organized by the IGG to launch the lifestyle audit as a way of addressing corruption in the country. In February 2023, Kamya gave a March 1, 2023, and March 31, 2023 deadline for all public officers to declare their wealth.
According to URN, the IGG is reported to have registered 25,000 declarations from 312 institutions in 2021. Within the same period, approximately 45 public officers were forwarded to the Leadership Code Tribunal for prosecution.
Earlier this month, Speaker of Parliament Anita Among declared her wealth and asked MPs, and staff of the parliamentary commission to comply with the leadership code. Recently, the speaker of parliament, Anita Among, said the IGG should not be swayed by surface declarations made by public officials.
Among noted that there was a need for deeper investigations by the inspectorate so that the right wealth is attached to an individual. She added, “I implore you to go beyond the ceremonial declarations and do a thorough verification of the declared assets to ensure stolen money is not hidden. This greatly bolsters the fight against corruption while promoting transparency. This exercise will also increase the trust of citizens in public administration,”
An October 2022 report published by the IGG reported that Uganda loses at least Shs 9.144 trillion every year to corruption in both private and public institutions. The same report discovered that 23 percent of the annual government budget is lost to corruption.
The president’s love for men and women in uniform and political cadres is well articulated by him. While officiating at the World Science day at Kololo Ceremonial grounds in November 2021, Museveni warned that those attacking Dr Monica Musenero, the minister of Science, Technology, and Innovations, had better get their facts right, or would face dire consequences should it be proved that the allegations do not hold water.
Musenero had been accused of diverting Shs 31 billion meant for Covid-19 vaccine manufacture.
“I saw some people attacking Musenero in parliament. Normally I quote the Bible, but this time I want to quote the Americans. Apparently, Americans have a law, that makes it an offence to attack a decorated US army officer. Now I see some people attacking Musenero, little do they know that Musenero is a decorated person,” he said.