News and Views

Arrest ministers named in Chogm theft

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Ms Nambooze (L) and other Buganda Caucus MPs talk to Kampala Extra Prisons Commander, Mr Zac Owoko at Luzira Prisons where they were denied access to Prof. Bukenya yesterday. Mr. Owoko said the MPs were too many to access the facility. Photo by Joseph Kiggundu 

By YASIIN MUGERWA  

PAC report findings on the chogm deals

Amama Mbabazi

Mr Mbabazi, who was security minister at the time, was implicated in the May 2010 Parliamentary PAC report which found him guilty of “Influence peddling” in the deal awarded to Balton (U) Ltd at $5 million (about Shs11b) by the Chogm Security sub-committee. Mbabazi was the inspector General of Chogm.

PAC had recommended that Mbabazi be held responsible for his “hidden interest” in the $5m TETRA communication system deal where, on his command, the money was spent outside the budget approved by Parliament for Chogm.

“The Minister of Security introduced the idea of $5,000,000 to the President, the first time ever, the figure surfaced in the Chogm sub-committee meeting of September 12, 2006, documented under minute 05/06,” PAC said in its report.

Kutesa and Nasasira
In the report, Kutesa and works minister John Nasasira were accused of bending procurement procedures to favour BMW.
“The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Sam Kutesa, and the Minister of Works and Transport, Hon. John Nasasira, bent procurement procedures to favour BMW. The Committee holds them liable for their actions,” the MPs said.

“The Sponsorship Committee, headed by Hon. Sam Kutesa should also account for all the collections that were made under corporate sponsorship within 30 days.”

Hope Mwesigye
That Minister Hope Mwesigye should be held responsible for flouting PPDA regulations and the Constitution of Uganda.
Hon. Hope Mwesigye should further be held liable for abuse of office and causing financial loss to Government of Uganda of Shs 617, 652,120. The Committee recommended that the appointing authority takes appropriate measures against Ms Mwesigye.

 

Following Monday’s remanding of former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya, MPs yesterday demanded the arrest of other ministers and public officials implicated in the abuse of billions in public funds meant for the 2007 Chogm summit.

Prof. Bukenya has denied charges of abuse of office and fraud stemming from his role in the award of a Shs9.4 billion tender to supply executive vehicles for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to Motorcare.

The call came on a day 20 MPs, mainly from Buganda region, were stopped from visiting the former vice president in Luzira Prison. Mr Zachary Owoko, the regional prisons commander Kampala Extra, said they were too many.

Earlier, the Buganda Parliamentary Caucus threatened to mobilise their constituents to protest if other suspects are not apprehended.
“We are giving government only five days to arrest other ministers, if they fail to do that we are going to mobilise people to demonstrate,” Makindye West MP Hussein Kyanjo said.

Lawmakers accused the Acting Inspector General of Government, Mr Raphael Baku, of protecting “thieves” in government.
“We are not saying Prof. Bukenya should not be charged, what we are against is selective prosecution. We want all other ministers who were named in the Chogm scandals to face the law,” said the Acting Buganda Caucus Chairperson, Latif Ssebaggala.
He added: “Why target Bukenya alone when people like Amama Mbabazi, Hope Mwesigye, Sam Kutesa, John Nasasira and Serapio Rukundo are just enjoying.”

While the MPs said Prof. Bukenya should not be charged alone, the Uganda Peoples Congress accused the Buganda Parliamentary Caucus of abdicating its oversight responsibility, arguing that corrupt government officials will each seek to find concealment in their tribes-mates.

In December 2007, Cabinet requested the Auditor General to undertake a value-for-money evaluation on Chogm activities following complaints about alleged diversion of public funds. However, when the PAC report came to the floor for debate after a seven-month inquiry, ruling party MPs in the 8th Parliament exonerated all ministers in a dramatic debate that was boycotted by the opposition.

Opposition Leader in Parliament, Nandala Mafabi, who was then chair of PAC, yesterday suggested “Bukenya is a sacrificial lamb, people like Mbabazi who should have been arrested on corruption charges were promoted [to prime minister] and later cleared by the IGG.”

But Mr Baku said: “The MPs should be patient; we are still investigating other ministers. For them to claim that I was biased is irrelevant and unfair accusation. The IGG cannot be given ultimatums, that will compromise the independence of the office and it is illegal.”

Current PAC chairman, Kassiano Wadri, however, maintained that “what the government is doing defeats the whole purpose of fighting corruption. All members of the Cabinet Chogm Sub-committee had a hand in the Chogm mess and imprisoning Bukenya and not other ministers is ridiculous.”

Ministers react
This was rejected by Foreign Affairs Minister Kutesa and former Tourism Minister Rukundo. Mr Kutesa said: “Parliament cleared me and to the best of my knowledge, no other body raised any charges against me. Buganda Caucus has no power to decide who should be charged and shouldn’t.”

Mr Rukundo said: “President Museveni is the one who chaired a meeting that authorised money for Bwebajja Hotel. I have nothing to do with the Chogm scandals.” President Museveni’s Press Sectary Tamale Mirundi yesterday denied allegations that Prof. Bukenya was being targeted.

“The President has nothing to do with Bukenya’s problems. It’s the Judiciary, and the President is not the Chief Justice,” Tamale said.
He added: “If they don’t want Bukenya to face the law, let them enact a separate legislation that VIPs will be immune from prosecution. They can even construct special prisons for former VIPs where they can go with mattresses and servants.”
Mr Tamale blamed Parliament’s Appointments Committee for not rejecting the re-appointment of ministers named in the Chogm scandal.

“The President cannot be blamed for appointing these Chogm ministers when they were exonerated by MPs,” Mr Tamale said.
He added: “ Let those MPs blame themselves.”

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