The vanguard of the war on corruption last week took an audaciously bold step by naming Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni as protecting corrupt public officials in the country’s first ever public perception survey on corruption.
The haemorrhaging of taxpayers’ funds through corruption is well documented.
At least $600 million — half the budget of the Works Ministry, which is in charge of the roads sector — is lost annually in fraudulent tenders alone.
A lot more is bled away in direct bribes and kickbacks.
That is alarming, but not surprising, as many Ugandans know that these deals are sanctioned from above.
Of course, the president’s name has always been bandied about but only in whispers; no publication has dared to name and shame the country’s Fountain of Honour.
But according to the ‘Book of Fame and Shame’ released by the Anti Corruption Coalition of Uganda, the president is perceived to protect officials who are persistently disgraced in graft scandals.
The line-up of the corrupt in the survey, conducted between January and November 2008, reads like a who’s who of the ruling party — from its officials to Cabinet ministers, Members of Parliament, resident district commissioners and heads of parastatals who are known supporters of Museveni’s party — a serous indictment considering that the survey’s respondents were drawn from government institutions and the general public.
However, the Coalition’s survey also names officials who are perceived to be clean.
And bizarrely enough, Museveni’s name makes this list as well.
The president’s commitment is brought into question by the ongoing CHOGM probe, in which the taxpayer bled over $200 million.