In the article entitled We can’t afford the bickering at Works ministry that appeared in The Observer of August 27, Hon Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda raised critical issues.
I agree that government money should not be misused as we have seen in the recent past. There have been a number of corruption scandals such as that of Chogm 2007, where about Shs 500 billion were lost in irregular procurement of cars, road construction and repairs, among others.
Then came the Shs 95.8 billion of Global Fund that disappeared into thin air in 2008 before the Basajjabalaba scandal of 2011 that saw Shs 169 billion erroneously given as compensation for loss of business in city markets the pension scandal of 2012 in ministry of Public Service need no mention. While the Geoffrey Kazinda saga is still fresh in our minds, there comes the Mukono-Katosi road scam! The list is endless. The observation is that people think government money is nobody’s money.
However, I find it a contradiction for Hon Ssemujju to blame individuals such as Hon Byandala and Col Fred Mwesigye. Byandala was vetted and approved by a relevant committee of Parliament. Shouldn’t people such as Ssemujju be the ones to blame when people with questionable track records are vetted and approved by Parliament? I know Hon Kakooza did not go through, but what about Byandala?
I think as Parliament, you should own Byandala: his mistakes are your mistakes. Ssemujju goes on to allege that Mwesigye’s promotion to chair the Presidential Affairs committee was done in connection to allow KCCA to purchase the Usafi market.
Col Mwesigye is not the only person who takes decisions in that committee. As Ssemujju is aware, for a decision to be made in a committee, it is either by consensus or by a majority vote. The questions that Ssemujju should be raising are: Were the procurement rules followed? Is there value for money? Did the offer breach any rule?
Short of that, we may think, Ssemujju is using this opportunity to blackmail citizens of good repute such as Col Mwesigye and the like. By the way, Mwesigye has a clean track record. He is one of the few senior officers in the army who are scandal-free. The National Enterprises Corporation (NEC), like many other government departments, suffers from national constraints and bureaucracy, which hamper its ability to do business and become competitive.
Ssemujju, being a member of the Defence committee, would be the first person to know the predicament of NEC. Mwesigye made his contributions in the circumstances and should be appreciated, not scorned. Ssemujju owes an apology to Byandala and Mwesigye.
Also, it is wrong to create an impression that the army cannot run business or participate in a project like Naads. The beauty with the army is that it is a disciplined and homogenous force, with unity of command. The laws that guide them are stricter than those that govern other institutions.
If the army erred, it would be easier to discipline them and the cases are there to show. It is the reason why corruption has been minimised in the army. Elsewhere in the world, Indonesia for instance, the army owns hundreds of companies that are making good business.
If Ssemujju knows that there are people with criminal records in Parliament, the police are not far from the House. Even committees have judicial powers to arrest and detain someone, and the courts of law are functioning properly. Ssemujju should do this country a favour and report them to police, instead of lamenting in the media.
The author is a pan-Africanist.
Source : The Observer