Leaders With Unexplained Wealth Worry Ig

Leaders with unexplained wealth worry ig
Appeared in The New Visionon 25 Aug 2020

The Inspectorate of Government (IG) is concerned about the increasing cases of leaders who have lots of unexplained wealth but hide behind farming.

He said the leaders have fronted farming as their source of wealth, with claims of being successful farmers.

"On each occasion we have gone out to verify the much accumulated assets submitted by leaders under the Leadership Code Act, most of them claim their source of wealth was farming," the Deputy Inspector General of Government, George Bamugemereire, said.

He added: "We now need the required tools to enable us unpack this farming to go beyond mere claims and establish who these great farmers are and how they acquired so many assets through agriculture," he stated.

Other leaders, Bamugemereire said, have resorted to tricks and telling lies by registering assets with questionable sources in the names of their children and spouses and, therefore, do not declare them, which he termed as under-declaration.

He, however, said it was going to become a serious offence to under-declare or to conceal information about one's wealth and income with a functional Leadership Code Tribunal, headed by Dr Roselyn Irene Karugonjo.

Penalties

The tribunal will have powers to try the culprits and give penalties, which can only be challenged in the High Court.

Bamugemereire was on Friday speaking during the first stakeholders' meeting with the tribunal at the IGG's office on IPS Building on Parliamentary Avenue in Kampala.

The meeting was attended by the ethics ministry permanent secretary, Alex Okello and the second deputy IGG, Mariam Wanga Wangadya.

The tribunal, appointed by President Yoweri Museveni, is meant to serve as a court in the enforcement of the Leadership Code Act and be hold leaders accountable.

Other members of the tribunalare Asuman Kiyingi, Jane Arume Okellowange, Didas Bakunzi Mufasha and Joyce Nalunga Birimumaaso. According to Bamugemereire, the Leadership Code (Amendment) Act 2017 had other issues after some provisions in the amended Act 2002 were either deleted or omitted. "So, we want to bring back some of the clauses that were removed. For example, the clause that states that it is an offence for leaders to refuse to fill declaration forms was removed and we want it reinstated," he said.

The other concern was how to enable the tribunal to have ‘teeth and be able to bite'.

Bamugemereire appealed to Parliament to help in making the required legal amendment, saying the inspectorate wants the telling of lies emphasised so that it becomes a specific offence and the penalties spelt out.

He says under the proposed amendments to the law, beneficial ownership of property will be established, ‘so when a leader registers property in the child's name, there will always be provision for the name of the actual owner'.

Uganda has 25,000 leaders from sub-county level to the President, but Bamugemereire said about 10% do not comply and hoped that with the tribunal in place, action will be taken.

On the delayed replacement of the IGG, Bamugemereire said it had affected and limited the office's operations since the court gave an interpretation of the law that establishes the inspectorate, where it ruled that for the office to be fully constituted, a substantive IGG and the two deputies must be in place.

As a result, he said, the two deputies alone cannot sign on a charge sheet or directly prefer charges against anyone. Instead, IGG lawyers work using letters from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to act on his behalf.

He said former IGG Justice Irene Mulyagonja's contract ended on July 5 and she was sent to the Court of Appeal.

A replacement is awaited. Dr Karugonjo said this was their first stakeholders' meeting after they were sworn into office four weeks ago.

She said they had been drafting rules of procedure that they will use as a tribunal and were, therefore, consulting with key partners, such as the IGG.

Their major concern was how they were supposed to implement the Leadership Code Act with a backlog of over 15 years and over 4,000 cases to handle, which she said they must bring to zero in a period of five years.