By PATRICK JARAMOGI
KAMPALA, Uganda|SHIFTMEDIA| Campaigning for an elective post in Uganda is one of the most expensive in the world.
According to Hon. Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the Member of Parliament for Kira Municipality, one needs not less than Ugx 500 million ($135,000) to contest for a parliamentary seat.
To be precise, Ssemujju says one needs way above a billion shillings ($2.7m). But still what politicians in Uganda use when campaigning can never be known.
To say the least what the incumbent, National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidate Yoweri Museveni spends is enormous. He made it clear as he campaigned in Busoga that he had officially released Ugx50 billion ($14b) to be distributed to NRM delegates who attend his scientific campaign as their transport refund.
An investigation we carried out shows that those sailing through as unopposed are buying off their opponents at rates between Ugx200- 800 million. Where this money comes from isn’t known.
No wonder when they get elected to parliament the first option is to increase their pay so as to recover what they used during the campaigns.
A prominent minister from Bushenyi lost in the primaries despite pumping in over 700 million shillings.
The opponent who won this minister, we discovered spent way over that, having purchased 10, mosquito nets, 10 bars of soap, 10 kgs of sugar and salt plus shs20k that she distributed to each and every household in the entire constituency.
It is for this fact that civil society organisations led by Transparency International Uganda (TIU), Anti- Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU), ActionAid Uganda and Uganda Debt Network are demanding for an election Financing Law.
Under this law, it will be easy to monitor and control the amount of cash spent in campaigns by Ugandan politicians.
Cissy Kagaba the Executive Director Anti- Corruption Coalition Uganda said: “We shall promote a private members bill as the first business in the first session of the 11th parliament.”
“The amount of money spent on election campaigns is too much, and we don’t know where these monies come from given the aspect of money laundering. We need to put a cap on this,” said Kagaba.
Kagaba and scores of other anti-corruption activists addressed the media at the Transparency International Uganda offices in Kampala on Tuesday.
Xavier Ejoyi the Country Director ActionAid International Uganda urged Ugandans to rise up against corruption.
“The last thing we shall allow is to give up on the fight against corruption. We should pursue the fight against corruption without fear or favour.”
Xavier who said they are not ready to retreat or surrender said: “Ugandans join us in this fight, lets name and shame the corrupt. Let’s arouse public anger against the corrupt.”
Uganda loses over Ugx 500 billion due to corruption as per World Bank statistics.
Ejoyi said the CSOs will hold the National Integrity Awards Dinner on December 16, 2020, to recognize Ugandans who have been at the forefront in the fight against graft.
The CSOs demanded for accountability from government of Covid-19 funds, the locust spray in Karamoja, and the floods in Kasese.
Peter Wandera the Executive Director Transparency International Uganda said most of the events were treated as emergencies, however, issues of accountability are not coming fast enough.
“These situation raises a lot of transparency issues and could lend credence to the notion that the emergency route was used even where planning should have been helpful so as to avoid the scrutiny that comes with public procurement,” said Wandera.
He said there is need for government to introduce a comprehensive witness protection legal and institutional framework.
“There is a need to adopt a non-conviction based asset recovery regime,” he said.
Christine Byiringiro from the Uganda Debt Network said it is very important that government accounts for the over 12 trillion shillings that was given for Covid-19 relief in either loans or grants. “We need to know exactly how much money was donated by individuals and companies and how this money was utilised,” said Byiringiro.
The CSOs also demanded that a substantive IGG and Chairman Uganda Human Rights Commission be appointed to address the escalating corruption and rampant human rights abuses.
OPM officials charged over Covid-19 food scam
On Tuesday, four officials attached to the Prime Minister’s Office were charged over Covid-19 food scam.
Permanent Secretary Ms Christine Guwatudde Kintu, Accountant Joel Wanjala, Assistant Commissioner for Procurement Fred Lutimba and Commissioner for Disaster Management Martin Owor appeared before Justice Margaret Tibulya and denied all the twenty-three charges slapped against them by the state.
Also Read: (https://shiftmedianews.com/corruption-anti-graft-csos-demand-for-8-trillion-covid-19-funds-accountability/)
The group faces twelve counts related to abuse of office and eleven others on false accounting.
Court has heard that investigations in the matter are complete with partial disclosures being made to the defense lawyers.
“This case is adjourned to March 19, 2021, and March 26, 2021, with orders of making full disclosures and consultations,” Justice Tibulya said.
Prosecution led by Mr Nicolas Kawoya alleges that the accused persons did acts prejudicial to their employer when they prepared and issued false entries between March 31 and April 8, 2020, in award letters to several companies to supply Covid-19 relief items such as maize and milk worth more than Shs32 billion in total disregard of the procurement procedures.
Prosecution further states that the group contracted several companies that included; Aponye Uganda Limited which was given Shs19 billion to supply several kilograms of maize each at Shs3, 000, Mandela Millers Limited which was given Shs9 billion and Afro Kai Limited which was paid Shs2 billion.
The other companies include Mehta Group C/o SCOUL which was given Shs900 million, Operation Wealth Creation which was paid Shs450 million, Pearl Dairy Farmers Limited with a bill of Shs525 million, Nmacks Investments Limited Shs225 million and Global Center Limited Shs240 million.