Museveni’s planned “anti-corruption” walk is the joke of the year!, citizens
By Charles Kamya Ssentamu
As he prepares to lead a “walk against corruption” next week, Ugandans have already reacted to President Yoweri Museveni’s latest stunt with a mixture of derision and anger. Following a week of hollow statements in which he threatened dire consequences for the corrupt especially those that “ask for bribes from foreign investors,” Museveni will on 4 December be “the chief walker” against the graft leaden system he has entrenched over his 34 year rule.
“I don’t have time for theatre,” said Makindye resident Jackson Kidega. “You can even tell that he is just putting on a show from the way he has compartmentalized corruption into what affects his equally corrupt investors. How about us who must deal with graft daily across his rotten government system?” asked Kidega.
Museveni’s ambivalence on corruption was on full display again during a book launch this week. “We are ready to fight and crush corruption. If they disturb you, find a way of mentioning it to your ambassador. He or she will whisper it to me and you will soon see the casualties,” Museveni told the gathering that presumably included foreign investors.
Analysts are interpreting that statement to mean that Museveni simply lacks the will to fight the graft that has permeated every facet of Ugandan life in the close to 34-years of his misrule.
“Am sure even his guests saw through that. Where else in the world would one need to report corruption to an ambassador and the president rather than the state institutions set up to fight it; and where does that leave ordinary citizens?” Asked Julius Ssebanakita, a Bodaboda rider.
Museveni has no shortage of institutions supposed to fight corruption. Every time he has compromised one institution that tries to do its job, he simply creates another.
After making it impossible for the Inspector General of Government Irene Mulyagonja to investigate his cronies, Museveni recently created an anti-corruption unit based in State House. Headed by Lt. Col Edith Nakalema it upended Mulyagonja, whom Museveni is now portraying as incompetent.
In reality however, Nakalema’s outfit is intended to put on highly visible show of fighting graft while at the same time covering the tracks of Museveni and his cronies. In total there are now nine anti-graft agencies in Uganda that spend more time bumping into each other than catching the thieves that Museveni has given political cover.
“The leopard does not change his spots, so don’t expect Museveni who is the grand don of corruption in Uganda to become its adversary,” says a Kampala lawyer.
The lawyer who prefers anonymity explains that it is impossible for Museveni to renounce corruption because it has become a self-regenerating cycle on which his political survival now hinges.
“Because of the international risks associated with the use of brute force to suppress opposition to his misrule, the president has become increasingly reliant on money. Such money can only be available through activities that undermine the normal functioning of the state, so Museveni is wedded to corruption,” the lawyer observes.
Even as he prepares for his phony walk, Museveni is caught up in standoff with the Uganda National Roads Authority, UNRA, which he is trying to force into awarding a US$ 1.1 billion road contract to a shadowy Chinese firm, which is being fronted by Museveni. That translates into an average cost of US$ 11.5 million for each kilometer of the 95km road.
The firm in question failed early in the bidding process, but Museveni is throwing his weight about to usher it in through the backdoor, even though it has not demonstrated financial capacity to undertake the PPP project for the planned eight-lane road.
With his friend Justice minister Kahinda Otafiire, Museveni has been siphoning stupendous amounts of money by overbilling and then under-delivering on road projects. An example is the 52km Entebbe Expressway Highway which was billed as an 8-lane road, but which ended up 4-lane. Billed at nearly US$ 600 million, Entebbe Expressway is supposed to be a “PPP toll” road.
But two years after it was completed, traffic is low despite no tolls being charged for the moment. Loan repayments for the project start next January but Museveni and Otafiire are home and dry.
As if the thievery involved in the above two projects were not enough, Museveni is again pushing for another: the Mpigi Busega Expressway project that will come it at a cost of US$ 30 million per kilometer.
Despite a current glut of stranded electric power from three hydropower stations, Museveni is now pushing for construction of another one over the famous Murchison Falls. That power station will be in addition to the yet-to-be commissioned 600Mw Karuma hydropower Station.
Interestingly, projects such as the proposed power station at Murchison Falls don’t form part of the energy master plan developed by the relevant experts, but are the initiative of Museveni’s cronies who conceive the ideas, source for briefcase “investors”, and “contractors”.
These then get Museveni to work backwards to get the relevant government department to own them.
The words of Paulo Muwanga when Museveni took over in 86 ring truer than ever: “by the time Ugandans ‘wake up’, Museveni will have sold everything of value in Uganda; all its assets and everything else!”