Museveni leads a walk against his own corruption record
By Charles Kamya Ssentamu
As he leads his much derided walk against corruption today, December 4, in reality Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni will be walking against his very own record of corruption.
In 1996, Uganda was ranked 46th least corrupt country of 175 countries that were surveyed by Transparency International. As he leads his mock walk, Uganda is today, just 26 places away from being the most corrupt country in the world. TI ranks it 149th out 175 on the latest corruption perception index.
That shows just low Uganda has sunk during the nearly 34 years of Museveni’s rule. Evidence also points to Museveni’s direct involvement in the scandals through proxies.
Below are just a few of the greatest hits in the Museveni clan heist, carried out in broad daylight against the people of Uganda.
THE DANZE TAX EVASION SCANDAL, 1996.
Danze was the business arm of the NRM and President Museveni was its chairman. In 1996, news broke that it had been trading without paying taxes for at least 10 years. The Anti-Smuggling Unit found that in a single year the company had smuggled into the country goods worth US$ 3.4 million.
Museveni’s company had not been paying import duty. Danze was disbanded after the scandal broke, with key actors sponsored on courses abroad to stop them from giving evidence.
UGANDA COMMERCIAL BANK SCANDAL, 1998
In 1998 the government decided to sell a minority stake in Uganda Commercial Bank. The 49 percent shares were supposedly sold to a Malaysian outfit Westmont Land Asia. As it turned out, the company was a front for local interests led by then Maj. Gen. Salim Saleh, Museveni’s brother.
Although parliament later stopped the sale, a good chunk of deposits in UCB’s external accounts in New York had been drained. Gen. Saleh who was later found to be the majority shareholder in Westmont, bailed out by selling the shares to Greenland Investments, a company in which Museveni’s younger brother also was a shareholder.
During an inquiry into the mismanagement of the defunct Greenland Bank, Dr. Sulaiman Kiggundu, who was the chief executive and who became the fall guy for the entire scandal, singled out President Museveni. That was the architect of the irregular purchase of the UCB shares by Greenland Bank!, Kiggundu charged.
JUNK CHOPPER SCANDAL, 1998
During the same year, 1998 it emerged that Uganda had through a civilian middleman, Emma Katto bought four unserviceable Mi-24 helicopters from a junk yard in Belarus at a cost of US$ 8 million. Again, Gen. Salim Saleh, who admitted to have earned a commission of us$ 800,000 off the deal turned out to be the prime mover.
In a surprise development however, Museveni scuttled prosecution when he claimed Saleh had confessed the crime to him and he had forgiven him and told him to use the proceeds on the reserve force. The crooked mafia boss was letting off the family number two. It stank to the high heavens.
VALLEY DAM SCANDAL
In the late 1990’s government conceived a project to build valley dams along the cattle corridor in central and northeastern Uganda. At the end of the US$ 3.4 million project, there were no dams to speak of.
GHOST SOLDIER SCANDAL, 2003
In 2003 the lid was lifted off a long running racket in which the army had been used to siphon some US$ 320 million out of the public coffers through inflating the headcount of fighting units in northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although the scam was attributed to field commanders, no effort was made to bring anybody to book.
CONGO PLUNDER SCANDAL
Museveni’s right hand man and Gen. Kahinda Otafiire and Gen. Salim Saleh were again to feature prominently in a case before the International Court of Justice sitting in 2005, in which Uganda was accused of plundering the DRC’s resources. The court slapped a US$ 10 billion fine against Uganda, but the key actors continue to play a prominent roles in the Museveni’s government as taxpayers brace for the huge bill.
THE GLOBAL FUND SCANDAL, 2005
In 2005, the Global Fund suspended a US$ 200 million grant to the Ministry of Health after an audit uncovered a US$ 37 million fraud. In a subsequent commission of inquiry in which Museveni was a witness against Jim Muhwezi, his health minister, his complaint was that Muhwezi had under-declared how much he had creamed off! Museveni apparently was incensed that he hadn’t received the lion’s share of the cut!
In his defense, under the same case Capt. Mike Mukula, a junior health minister said the Shs240 million he was accused of stealing was requested for and sent to the office of the First Lady, Janet Museveni. Apparently ripping off Ugandans was a daddy and mummy enterprise!
TEMANGALO LAND SCANDAL, 2008
In 2008 it emerged that then security minister Amama Mbabazi, had quietly sold 411 acres of land to the National Social Security Fund, at Ushs 11.2 billion. As it emerged that the land had been overvalued, Museveni stepped in to say Mbabazi had actually sold it on the cheap as he (Museveni) would have billed for much more.
NATIONAL ID SCANDAL
As the 2011 elections approached, the country was told that voting would be based on national identity cards. A project to register and issue the national IDs was hurriedly procured in late 2010, and a Ushs 150 billion contract awarded to a German firm. The firm produced only 400 IDs. In 2014, fresh procurement for the project was conducted. The Ugandan taxpayer had once again taken it on the chin, massively!
LC BICYCLE SCANDAL
Again in 2010, faced with an unfulfilled promise to give each village council leader a bicycle, a project to procure 70,000 bicycles at Ushs 4 billion was quickly passed.
Not a single bicycle has been delivered to date, yet the money was “eaten”.
In the early 2000’s, “businessman” (more like personal Museveni fixer) Hassan Basajjabalaba the national treasurer of Museveni’s ruling NRM went on a shopping spree, snapping up managements contracts for a city market and an abattoir. It was later found that he had fraudulently got the deals, and he was thrown out.
Museveni however sanctioned a payout to the tune of Ushs 142 billion in compensation to Basajjabalaba for “lost business opportunity”.
MUSEVENI, SAM KUTEESA, PATRICK HO BRIBERY SCANDAL, 2017
In 2017, President Museveni and his Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kuteesa were adversely mentioned in a corruption trial in New York during which a Chinese national confessed to have conveyed a US$ 500,000 bribe to Museveni, through Kuteesa. The bribe was meant to facilitate the Chinese businessman’s entry into Uganda’s financial sector. Museveni has not attended the past two UN General Assembly sessions since the scandal broke. Foreign Minister Kuteesa took a similar cut. He too can’t step in the US!
LUBOWA HOSPITAL SCANDAL
In a January this year images emerged of a proposed advanced hospital facility at Lubowa In the outskirts of Kampala. Although it was supposed to be a private development, the promoters wanted the state to guarantee their loan. Eventually, Museveni bulldozed parliament into authorizing an advance of Ushs 140 billion to the Italian outfit behind the venture. As soon as the money was released, the partners fell out.
Uganda’s Mafia marches on.