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Iron Sheets Scandal: Museveni Government’s Commitment to Corruption Fight Written in Black and White

Minister Kitutu appearing at the Anti-Corruption Court. Photo: @AntiGraft_SH
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Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Mary Goretti Kitutu Kimono, arrived at the Anti-Corruption Court on Thursday, April 6th, to face corruption charges before she was remanded to Luzira Prison. She is accused of diverting relief materials.

Kitutu had been held in police custody prior to her appearance in court. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) approved the charges against her, and the police was directed to produce her in court for plea taking.

The ‘mabaati’ scandal has sparked concern among members of the public who have been calling for accountability and transparency in government affairs. Corruption has been a persistent issue in Uganda, with government officials often accused of diverting funds and resources meant for public use.

Kitutu’s case is just one of several high-profile corruption cases currently making their way through the courts. The Anti-Corruption Court was established in 2009 to deal specifically with cases of corruption and has been instrumental in bringing corrupt officials to justice.

Named in this saga alongside Kitutu include, First Deputy Prime Minister Rebecca Kadaga, State Minister for Primary Education Moriku Kaducu, third Deputy premier Rukia Nakadama, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, Finance State minister Amos Lugoloobi, and Government Chief Whip Hamson Obua. Kasaija and Kadaga have since acknowledged receiving these iron sheets.

Kadaga confirmed receiving the iron sheets and explained how she used them. (Read related Story Here).

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija told MPs to kill him if they want, swearing that he does not know how iron sheets got into his compound. (See Details Here).

PM Nabbanja came out and cleared the air on reports that she had used Karamoja iron sheets to roof her hotels. (Read Story Here).

The scandal which has since sucked in a number of ministers had ignited a debate on whether president Museveni and the government will have the boldness and will power to rein in the errant members of the cabinet or stomach the humiliation caused and move on like nothing ever happened.

Sarah Bireete, the executive director of Center for Constitutional Governance, is pessimistic the president has still the will power to punish members of his government implicated in corruption because of what she refers to as “patronage and greed for power.”

According to Bireete, Museveni is only interested in loyalty and he can only act when he finds out that one of his ministers is conniving against him, something he cannot tolerate.

“The ministers are aware that he (Museveni) cannot act. Ugandans need to know that they are on their own when it comes to the abuse of office and misuse of public resources. If we had a sensible government this cabinet would have been overturned but we don’t have,” Bireete said.

Based on her experience of working with president Museveni, the former minister of Ethics and Integrity, Miria Matembe believes that sacking these officials implicated in the saga would be a miracle.

Expressing her disappointment towards the regime, Matembe cited some of the previous government officials who were dropped and later reappointed to the government, a sign she said shows incompetence of the regime.

“It would be a miracle which I would receive so highly if he acted, particularly those people who were involved in the scandal. You see, president Museveni no longer cares about Ugandans. If he was to act, why should there be inquiries?” she queried.

Butambala County MP, Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi, like Matembe, expressed reservations on whether action would be taken by the government. He accused President Museveni of sidelining the delivery mechanisms and institutions for service delivery to the people of Uganda and instead put his focus on individuals.

“On this saga, I can bet he (Museveni) will not act because it is his way of work and he loves it. Have you ever seen a president moving with envelopes, sacks of money? When we talk of social and structural reforms of a country, this is what we meant to achieve. The whole thing is upside down,” he said.

Emmanuel Dombo, the director of communications at NRM secretariat, said action on sensitive matters like this one can only be taken depending on the validity of the evidence that will be produced and not hearsay.

Responding to skepticism by some regime critics who had seemed to demand a response in one day, Deputy Presidential Press Secretary Kirunda Faruk opened their eyes to the fact that this government is different from its predecessors where suspects would be purged without thorough investigations and punished. To this end, Matembe who seemed to wish the accused suspected individuals reprimanded without a probe will unavoidably be disappointed.

On the issue of reappointment of some officials, especially those who have been censured before, the law gives more power to Parliament to approve and disapprove anyone who has been reappointed. This means whoever puts the blame entirely on the president for reappointing some members initially censured would be unfair.

There are also instances where those censured are later cleared by courts of law and those who have served their punishment making them eligible to serve again.

Yet this has not been the first time president Museveni has gone hard on his own implicated in graft accusations. Ministers Jim Muhwezi, Capt. Mike Mukula, Ibrahim Byandaala, John Nasasira, Ex Vice President, Prof. Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya, are among the others who have either had to lose their offices or even spend months in Luzira over their alleged involvement in corruption scandals.

It should be remembered that on Thursday, April 06, donning a ‘veil of shame,’ Minister Kitutu appeared before the Anwas formally charged and remanded to Luzira Prison, meaning that she will spend her Easter holiday behind bars. (See Details Here and There).

MORE ON KITUTU’S WOES

MABAATI SAGA! Arrest Speaker Among, VP Alupo, PM Nabbanja & All Ministers Named in Karamoja Iron Sheets Scandal – Activist

Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Court has issued criminal summons against Minister Kitutu’s assistant.

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