Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Corruption-Uganda's perspective -Part 6

NSSF saga- NRM over-exposed ?

Step aside, anti-corruption activist advises Mbabazi
As the saga over the controversial land transaction between the National Social Security Fund and the Security Minister Mr Amama Mbabazi rages digging up new information, the Coordinator of the NGO, Anti Corruption Coalition of Uganda (ACCU), Mr Jasper Tumuhimbise tells Inside Politics that it would be better if those facing investigations stepped aside to allow for free and fair investigations. Dorene Namanya sought him out.

In the event that those accused of corruption are found liable, should they be made to refund the money or be sacked all together?

In my opinion, it should be dismissal and prosecution. Sacking is not enough. He (in reference to Security Minister Amama Mbabazi in the fray for a questionable transaction with the National Social Security Fund) should be made to pay back in the event that he is found responsible. Otherwise what good will it do to say sack him and let him go home and enjoy the money? What lesson is to be learned from such a thing should it happen?

Where does a scandal like this leave NRM as a party vis a vis the government’s pledge on zero tolerance to corruption?

This pledge is still majorly lip service. There have been so many commissions of inquiry on NSSF, like the Nsimbe Estates and Udyam House (other controversial NSSF investments) scandals and of course others, like the Congo timber saga, the Junk helicopters, Global fund and the police inquiry, but implementing the recommendations either takes a long time or is not followed up. And as long as this is still going on, we have failed as a country.
Hon Mbabazi is presumed to be one of the cleanest and most prudent Ministers in the NRM.

Where do these allegations leave his reputation?

It does not matter whether you are a minister, MP, opposition or from the ruling party. If the act is beyond reproach, that means you have lost credibility regardless of your previous reputation. Like is the case in Tanzania; when a government official is under investigation, they step aside so as not to interfere with the investigation and that is what should be done. The minister in question should step aside, and if the investigations come out and he is innocent, then he should be re-installed in all his honorable glory.

What can be done to protect worker’s money now that NSSF is being used as a cash till that everyone wants to dip their hands into?
NSSF is a government body but it is being run as a private business, sometimes even as a financial institution seeing as it has started lending out money. For a government body to purchase and sale property, they need to follow the guidelines of PPDA act of 2003 that stipulates that to purchase or sell a property of any amount that exceeds Shs150m, the said property should be put up for open domestic bidding, which in this case they never did. Therefore, there is need to reform the pension sector and review the NSSF act of 1985 so that they put in place a system that will check and prevent corruption. Without doing this, all efforts will be futile because even if you replace the NSSF management, they will still repeat the same mistakes because there is no clear and effective system in place.

From the Bassajabalaba deals, UBC land at Nakasero hill, Shimoni land bonanza, market sagas, etc, is this a confirmation of what the opposition claim, that Museveni’s third term is a season for plunder? Is the government using national resources to reward political supporters?
I would not wish to mix politics with corruption because you do not see objectivity in fighting corruption with the politicians we have around, either in the Opposition or the ruling party. Therefore, this corruption is not just a preserve of the ruling party, but as the government of the day, it happens to be under more scrutiny. The Opposition themselves have failed to iron out corruption allegations in their own camps. There is no doubt that politics are interfering in systems of government where you find that a political figure will override, say recommendations of the legal framework. Whether it is the NRM or the Opposition, we need to respect institutions in place. While the opposition may have a point, they should also be seen to be fighting corruption, not in future when they are in power. But it is true, we are using national reserves for politics and in my opinion, corruption is what will bring down the NRM.

Mr Tumuhimbise believes that no matter how clean a reputation one has, as long as they are involved in questionable activities, they have some explaining to do.
Printed in Inside Politics August 31, 2008 (www.monitor.co.ug)

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