As the country prepares for the Anti-corruption walk scheduled to take place on 4th December where President Yoweri Museveni will be the chief walker, Watchdog Uganda brings you a list of the seven major corruption scandals the country has faced ever since the National Resistance Movement (NRM) came to power.
Despite the enthusiasm expressed in finding the culprits, nothing serious has ever been done and most of them are still free, strong and hold big positions in government.
1. Global Fund Scandal
The scandal came to be when the then minister of Health Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi together with his two juniors Mike Mukula and Alex Kamugisha mismanaged the grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The grants were worth Shs1.4 trilion that included two grants to combat HIV/AIDS, two grants targeting malaria and one grant for tuberculosis. All five grants were suspended in August 2015 due to concerns about mismanagement by the Project Management Unit (PMU), an entity within the Ministry of Health.
A commission of inquiry was put in place and the report pinned Mukula and Kamugisha in two separate thefts which netted Shs6 billion from a gift of 14.3billion to the Health Ministry from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation.
The three were found guilty, the two Mukula and Mugisha were arrested but in a space of two months, they were set free.
2. Junk Chopper scandal
The junk tanks and choppers deal happened in February 1997 when the government signed a contract with Consolidated Sales Corporation (CSC) for the provision of four MI-24 attack helicopters at a total cost of Shs 45.4 billion. CSC was an off-shore company registered in the British Virgin Islands and it was brought on board by Gen Salim Saleh.
Shs24bn was paid by government expecting to receive the first two choppers, the balance pending delivery of the other two. When they arrived in Uganda, later, Col. Joshua Masaba, the then Air force Commander, certified the two choppers as airworthy. But in May 1998 pilots at Entebbe Airforce base refused to fly them claiming the second-hand choppers had no logbooks so there was no way of establishing flight hours and details of their history.
A committee was formed to investigate into the matter, the then military advisor to the minister of defence. Dr Kiiza Besigye was not called to testify which left many questions up now. However, in February 2005, Emma Katto who linked CSC to Saleh was charged with offering a bribe to Gen. Saleh, allegedly to influence him to award him a tender to supply MI-24 attack helicopters to the Ministry of Defence but Saleh was exonerated.
3. Pension Scam
In financial years, 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 there was embezzlement, fraud, conspiracy, false accounting and diversion of pension funds.
It was found out the three Jimmy Lwamafa, the former ministry of public service permanent secretary,Christopher Obey, principal accountant and Stephen Kunsa, director research and development masterminded a fraud scheme using an unapproved payment system, in which they created ghost pensioner accounts, and then purportedly paid Shs88billion into these accounts, and money was eventually withdrawn by people who were part of this scheme.
The three are up to now in prison serving their sentences however at the beginning of this year, while in prison Kunsa wrote a letter to head of the State House Anti-Corruption unit Lt Col Edith Nakalema asking her to investigate Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire.
Kunsa said that the payment of the claim for damages, fees and interest by the Ministry of Public Service was instigated by Otafiire. However, he did not record a police statement about the matter. “When I asked Opendi the investigating officer why Otafiire was left out, he told me that I should have known that Hon Otafiire was an army general,” Kunsa said.
4. CHOGM scandal
In 2007 Uganda hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, after it’s happening, an audit report was done which implicated that big bosses in the government mismanaged the funds.
The first culprit was the then Vice President Gilbert Bukenya and his cabinet colleagues Sam Kuteesa, Amama Mbabazi, Hope Mwesigye, John Byabagambi, John Nasasira and Jachan Omach since they were on the management committee whose meeting it was alleged to have cost Uganda billions of shillings.
At first, the budget was Shs 270 billion. However, over time the big bosses in the management raised it to Shs500 billion. The report accused the ministers and several senior government officials of inflating prices, awarding conference tenders to their family and friends and profiting from the mismanagement of the meeting.
After the investigations, Bukenya was remanded to Luzira prisons ministers such as the then government chief whip John Nasasira, foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa, and minister of state for labour Mwesigwa Rukutana were summoned but they didn’t appear. However, Amama Mbabazi was cleared by the report of the then Inspector General of Government (IGG) Raphael Baku in June 2011.
Many of the culprits in this scandal are still serving in the same government and they were never taken to prison, even Bukenya who was taken to prison didn’t spend much time there up now no one knows how justice was found in the corruption wave.
5. OPM Scandal
The scandal came in the faces of Ugandans after the conduction of special audit report in 2011 that discovered a financial scandal of Shs38.3bn, the report indicated that such money got lost completely.
The lost money was meant for Peace, Recovery and Development Project (PRDP) however it was diverted to fund other activities, without proper authorisation. For instance, Shs 1.8 billion was used to procure eight vehicles for seven ministers and the Prime Minister. Nothing was made to see the culprits were brought to book. In 2018, another hit the Office of Prime Minister where over Shs8bn was also mismanaged which led to suspending four officials were involved.
6. Valley Dam Scandal
In 2003 Shs3.5bn was allocated to construct Valley dams with the aim of trapping water in the semi-arid areas of Eastern Uganda. However, it disappeared without constructing even single valley dams. Gin Muhwezi who was in charge of building the dams could not explain where he spent the money.
7. NSSF-Temangalo land scandal
It emerged when the then Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, made a deal with National Social Security Fund (NSSF) by selling them a piece of land he jointly owned with businessman Amos Nzeyi in Temangalo.
The duo, together with the then minister of finance Dr Ezra Suruma who supervised NSSF, owned the now-defunct National Bank of Commerce in which they invested their money from the land deal they made with NSSF.
A parliamentary probe was conducted to find out how the how NSSF bought the land, after a probe, the report called for action to be made against Mbabazi and Suruma since they had violated the conflict of interest rule.
When the motion came in the House, it was quashed.
The land has total 411.44 acres and was bought at Shs 11.2 billion (Shs24 million per acre).
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