Saturday, October 17, 2009

Corruption-Uganda's perspective -Part 8

The Anti- Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) brings together 70 civil society organisations, individuals, religious leaders, academicians and key institutions involved in the fight against corruption. In marking the 2005 Anti-Corruption Week, which focused on the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets with the theme ‘Corruption in Public Procurement’, it was found out that there was a lot of political interference in the procurement process by politicians with impunity.

In April 2008, the media published figures from the African Peer Review Mechanism report that estimated that Shs500 billion is lost annually to corruption in Uganda citing procurement malpractices as the leading culprit.

I read at that time with contempt the article in Daily Monitor dated April 18 by the Minister of Foreign Affairs; Sam Kutesa titled “No money was stolen in PR firm deal”. This is a case where a British registered firm Hunton & Williams got a $750,000 as a payment for advising the government of Uganda on foreign public relations.

As we are still grappling with the real problem of botched procurement deals, that continue to rob our nation of resources, the honourable minister weakly defends the questioned deal as something that was done as a ‘matter of emergency’.

The honourable minister should, above anyone else (and as a lawyer), understand very well the provisions within the PPDA Act (2003) and regulations thereunder that govern procurement of public assets and their disposal in cases of emergency.

I whatsoever does not question the purpose of the deal (however unnecessary it could have been) but disagrees with the processes and formalities followed by the minister while conducting government business as they contradict the provisions in the PPDA act especially when it is clear that there is no emergency in ‘public relations’.

In the same way there is no matter of emergency that warrants any public official (especially a politician) to circumvent policies and procedures, more so if their relatives are part of the firms that benefit from the subsequent contract.

This deal and that of the President’s son-in-law’s firm, TERP Consult, that got the CNN advertising deal, Hon Musumba's ID project, only help to prove that top leadership in this country has not helped to curtail corruption.

In view of the above, I think the minister’s defence was weak and in public interest demands that he resigns and the company in UK should not only refund what they irregularly earned but should be black-listed since ultimately they are part of this corruption scandal.

By copy of this letter I appealed to the British Home Office to take action on the firm Hunton & Williams, who banked the funds on their dollar account number 73495533 of Barclays Bank located in London, 54 Lombard Street. Nothing was done....

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