Monday, July 27, 2009

CHOGM corruption: we are hopeful

It is understood that President Museveni was in a quite angry mood after he was driving through Kampala before the CHOGM. At least 77 billion shillings had been spent on repairing and resealing the roads of Kampala ahead of CHOGM and another Sh 6 billion was spent on consultants who supervised the work. When the President drove through Kampala the city was still riddled with potholes. He unleashed his anger on the Minister who was officially responsible – Mr. John Nasasira. The minister in turn responded by contracting local firms and chose not to follow normal procedures which would have taken too long. Instead the roads were repaired at the cost of 8 billion to please the President. Looking at today’s roads in Kampala it is evident that the entire 85 billion was a waste of taxpayer’s money.

CHOGM one big candy store
This was just one of the many ways CHOGM funds were embezzled or diverted. The CHOGM seemed to be heaven for the greedy and corrupt. Huge sums of monies were suddenly available for large scale prestige projects with apparent lack of oversight. Ministers, politicians and top civil servants all flocked to get their share of this lucrative ‘candy store’. Politicians and Ministers who are not supposed to take part in procurement processes were suddenly meddling with state coffers. One of the major scandals of CHOGM was, as you will all know, the repair of the Entebbe Road, which was peeling off even before the CHOGM began. Again we have the notorious Minister John Nasasira taking centre stage as the responsible Minister. Contractors did extremely shoddy work and other contractors were hired without tenders. At the end, tax payers’ money produced absolutely no results.

Museveni not amused
Apparently, once again the president was understandably not amused. He commissioned a special investigation and publicly disapproved of the work at Entebbe Road. This investigation lead to the arrest of Mr. Bagonza, who was the chief engineer. The chief engineer has since pleaded not guilty to the charges of negligence. The trial is on-going at Bunganda Road Courts.

ACCU welcomes attempt to try the alleged swindlers - it is the first case where someone is finally being brought to book after the scandalous CHOGM. However, it does seem a bit puzzling that so far only a top civil servant is appearing before court. His political boss, whom Museveni initially unleashed his anger at – is still a serving minister, although he seems to have taken centre stage.

A welcome arrest and prosecution
The arrest and prosecution is timely and welcome, indeed. Let’s not forget that it is the same Bagonza who was also involved in the Nansana-Nankulabye shoddy road under Zimwe construction.

ACCU, however, also calls upon other alleged culprits involved in other CHOGM scandals to be brought to book. Hon Sam Kuteesa, for example was implicated in the botched CNN deal where he actually conceded to have breached procurement rules. The same minister is alleged to have been involved in leasing cars at highly inflated prices ahead of CHOGM together with the Vice President Gilbert Bukenya.

We hope justice is done proportionally without fear or favor of top government ‘shots’ as it has always been demonstrated by our legal system. We are tired of witnessing the arm of the law apply only on small fish using small hooks. We remain hopeful – and optimistic!

Inspirational quotes

* “True happiness… is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” ~ Helen Keller

* “Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil; our great hope lies in developing what is good.” ~ Calvin Coolidge

* “The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak becomes a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong. That block of granite is often nothing more than a decision.” ~ Thomas Carlyle

* “Good manners are made up of small sacrifices.”

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