For over two decades, the Office of the Prime Minister has been hit with mega corruption scandals and it has always been perceived by the public as a hub of systemic graft.
During Amama Mbabazi,’s time, his name featured in corruption scandals such as Chogm saga in 2007 and the NSSF-Temangalo saga which came to light in July 2008 when reports emerged that the then Prime Minister and businessman Amos Nzeyi had been paid sh11b by the Fund for 414 acres of land, with each acre going for sh24m.
In 2012 Britain suspended all financial aid to Uganda over a corruption scandal in which millions of donor funds were allegedly embezzled in the office of the prime minister. Officials from OPM allegedly stole Shs 44.9 billion ($12.7 million) which was meant for the reconstruction of war-ravaged areas in Karamoja region under the Peace, Recovery, and Development Program (PRDP).
In 2018, during Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda’s reign, officials from OPM were accused of embezzling funds meant for refugees after inflating their numbers. A total of 19,000 ghost refugees were purported to have been discovered in Kampala alone.
In the same office, in 2020, four officials including then Permanent Secretary Christine Guwatudde, Accounting Officer Joel Wanjala, Assistant Commissioner of Procurement Fred Lutimba, and Commissioner of Disaster Management Martin Owor were arrested for presiding over an inflated procurement of covid-19 relief food, causing government financial loss of more than Shs 2 billion ($565,348).
When Nabbanja was appointed Prime Minister, people expected less from her given the fact that she was less experience compared to her predecessors. The least they expected from her was the ability to expose the hive of corruption in the OPM. However, last month she shocked many following the her brave actions in Kasese district where she had gone to offer relief to those who had been displaced by the flooding River Nyamwamba.
Nabbanja was appalled by the substandard quality of relief items which included beans, blankets, Mosquito nets among others procured by her office which prompted her to halt the distribution process and ordered another consignment of better qualit items be delivered to displaced persons in Kasese.
She also called for an investigation into the officials that procured the substandard items.
Although we have not seen any serious step against the perpetrators, the Prime Minister’s actions of refusing to supply such substandard items have won her credit. Unlike her predecessor, she has confronted the problem head-on to the annoyance of the perpetrators and thus giving hope to the public.
However, the golden question is, whether she will win a war that has failed her predecessors? Because the war against corruption is like fighting a drug cartel war in the Gulf of Mexico. Researches and reports from different investigations have shown that the corrupt in Uganda have built powerful political networks that insulate them from the long arm of the law.
According to Felix Kafuuma, Programmes, from Alliance for Finance Monitoring (ACFIM), for Nabbanja to win the war against corruption she needs the support of the public.
“The public can start by refusing substandard services and goods, the political elites in government throw at us as if they are doing us a favour and demand quality and the right quantity of goods. For instance, most of the beans and maize flour distributed as relief during the first lockdown was passed unfit for human consumption.”
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