CSO: State House anti-graft body won’t stop corruption.

President Yoweri Museveni’s creation of a new anti-corruption under State House continues to draw criticism with the latest coming from a rights civil society organisation, Legal Aid Service Provider’s Network (LASPNET).

In a statement, LASPNET castigated the president’s move, noting that the parallel structure will only lead to duplication of resources, conflicting roles in addition to undermining the powers of the IGG as entrenched in Article 225 of the 1995 Constitution.

While delivering his State of the Nation address to Parliament on June 6, President Museveni raised efficiency issues against the Inspectorate of Government (IG) in fulfilling its mandate of protecting the public from corrupt officials and accordingly named a three-man team under State House to investigate corruption cases.
The team headed by James Tweheyo, the former general secretary of the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) is the second anti-corruption unit that Museveni is creating under his office, the first being the directorate of ethics and integrity.

“We wish to caution that the establishment of a parallel anti-corruption unit manned by 3 individuals is not a solution to fighting corruption that has overwhelmed the 430 staff of the IG. It is contrary to the Constitutional spirit establishing the Inspectorate of Government,” the statement by LASPNET’s executive director Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa partly reads.

Namubiru argued that, much as the state of corruption in the country is alarming, there are existing institutions doing their best to fight corruption though they are being constrained by limited resources both human and financial, and yet they are fighting more of an institutionalised corruption syndicate.

“The parties who are benefiting in corruption have more resources at their disposal and the capacity to frustrate the IG’s efforts as well as that of other related agencies,” Namubiru wrote.

Below is Namubiru’s statement in full

STATEMENT AGAINST THE CREATION OF A PARALLEL ANTI-CORRUPTION UNIT

The Legal Aid Service Provider’s Network (LASPNET), is a member organization of 52 legal aid service providers in Uganda. Through its Advisory Committee on Governance and Monitoring Corruption in the Justice Law and Order Sector, the Network has noted with concern the remarks made by H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni regarding the institution of the Inspectorate of Government during the State of the Nation address delivered on 6th June 2018. During the address, the President questioned the efficiency of the Inspectorate of Government (IG) in fulfilling its mandate of protecting the public from corrupt officials. He accordingly announced the establishment of a parallel anti-corruption unit headed by Mr. James Tweheyo to receive and investigate corruption related complaints from the public.

The Inspectorate of Government is a Constitutional body established under Article 223 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. Furthermore, Article 225 provides the IGG with the responsibility of fostering, and eliminating corruption, abuse of authority and public office as well as to receive complaints from the public on corruption and investigate them.

LASPNET has for the past two years been working closely with the Inspectorate of Government and selected JLOS institutions namely the Judiciary, the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, Uganda Police Force and the Judicial Service Commission to address corruption. This has been done through a deliberate public campaign dubbed “Break the Silence on Corruption” which seeks to encourage the public through media to report cases of corruption amongst other interventions.

WE AGREE that the state of corruption in Uganda today has steadily become a hindrance to economic and social development. As a result, it has affected   service delivery to the masses, frustrated government projects as well as impeded access to justice especially for the most poor and vulnerable persons in Uganda. We therefore fully appreciate the President’s frustration that the established institutions have not done enough. However, through our interface with the Justice Sector we have encountered willing government institutions doing the best they can to fight corruption. These institutions have however been constrained by limited resources both human and financial, and yet they are fighting more of an institutionalized corruption syndicate. The parties who are benefiting in corruption have more resources at their disposal and the capacity to frustrate the IG’s efforts as well as that of other related agencies.

WE THUS STRONGLY COMMEND the work being done by the Inspectorate of Government in the fight against corruption which has registered remarkable success over the years. According to the IG report to Parliament of 2017, from January to June 2017 a total of 1,127 complaints were investigated out of which 714 were corruption cases forwarded to the Anti-Corruption Court for prosecution of the suspects. Additionally, 4,620 investigations are being conducted by the IGG and a total of 15 billion shillings was recovered by the IGG.

We note that WHEREAS the IG has weaknesses, several factors have escalated corruption such as impunity by some government officials; poor pay to public servants and high standards of living (inflation) among others.

WE ARE convinced that, much more can be done to tackle the problem of corruption in Uganda through enhancing the efficiency of the Inspectorate of Government and adapting to changing trends through using innovative technological approaches, skilling, as well as adequately resourcing the office.

We wish to caution that the establishment of a parallel anti-corruption unit manned by 3 individuals is not a solution to fighting corruption that has over whelmed the 430 staff of the IG. It is contrary to the Constitutional spirit establishing the Inspectorate of Government. This parallel structure will only lead to duplication of resources, conflicting roles in addition to undermining the powers of the IGG as entrenched in Article 225 of the 1995 Constitution.

WE THEREFORE CALL UPON HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT AND OTHER PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS TO ADOPT AND ENFORCE THE FOLLOWING RECOMMENDATIONS

1.THE INSPECTORATE OF GOVERNMENT: To use more innovative ways in fighting corruption such as use of technology, strengthen synergies and expand existing efforts by other stakeholders like civil society organizations.

To continuously sensitize the public on the different anti-corruption laws and empower them to report instances of corruption.

2.CABINET & OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT: To reconsider the decision to establish the new parallel structure and instead strengthen the IG through allocating sufficient resources both financial and competent staff as well as ensure that government agencies implement the Access to Information Act, 2005 and its subsequent regulations, 2011.

3.THE PARLIAMENT: Through its Human Rights and Legal Committees to expedite the tabling of the Witness Protection Bill, 2015 and have it passed into law.

To decline the decision of the Executive to establish the parallel anti-corruption unit.

4.PUBLIC: To be vigilant and report incidences of corruption as well as desist from engaging in corrupt practices.

LASPNET REAFFIRMS ITS COMMITMENT TO FIGHT CORRUPTION AND RESOLVES TO STAND AND SUPPORT THE OFFICE OF THE IGG IN THE SAME FIGHT.

 FOR GOD AND OUR COUNTRY

LASPNET ADVISORY COMMITEE ON GOVERNANCE AND CORRUPTION ON BEHALF OF THE BAORD OF DIRECTORS OF LASPNET