Where the IGG must be helped
July 3, 2007
Another pair of senior government officials are embroiled in verbal fight with the Inspector General of Government over alleged fraudulent court settlements in which it is alleged the country lost a whooping Shs102 billion.Corruption is a multifaceted and multi-prolonged problem . It may be grand or petty, isolated or systemic but these new revelations epitomise the scale of graft in this country. The colossal sums talked about here can finance half of the 2007/2008 budget.The effects of corruption are self evident. The pandemic is ranked as one of the greatest constraints to investment and economic development, public service delivery and equitable local and national development. You have heard about the corrupt political big wigs and their equally corrupt bureaucrats who expend their loot by buying huge chunks of land; some the size of counties. They then build huge ‘palaces’ which they do not occupy. The balance of their loot is stashed away in foreign bank accounts. As it was argued in this column last week, one of the factors responsible for the endemic corruption in Uganda has been the political leadership’s apparent lack of commitment to dehorn the problem. And now that the executive has made a turn around and is willing to bring the culprits to book, the powers of the IGG have come into question. Almost all government officials accused of grand corruption have questioned the IGG’s investigative and prosecuting powers.The public needs to know that Inspectorate of Government’s powers are succinctly provided for in Article 230 of the Constitution and they include, among others; to investigate, arrest and prosecute corrupt public officials. There are other institutions such as the Auditor General whose functions relate to unearthing financial irregularities or malpractices, the police which can investigate cases of corruption or fraud and the Director of Public Prosecutions who can prosecute any criminal case, including those related to corruption. The framers of the Constitution were aware of the limitations of the other institutions and decided to create an independent body specifically charged with the responsibility of fighting corruption and abuse of office.Therefore, the Inspectorate occupies a central position regarding the fight against corruption. It is the anti-corruption institution of Uganda. It is also a complaints office to which any person aggrieved by a decision of a public official or authority takes his or her complaint for redress.It reports to Parliament and has the function of promoting and ensuring strict adherence to the rule of law and principles of natural justice while dispensing its powers and executing its Ombudsman role. Thus, its mission is to promote good governance by enhancing accountability and transparency; and enforcement of the rule of law and administrative justice in public offices. It is however imperative that the IGG guards against applying double standards when enforcing the law. Take for instance the two cases of John Ken Lukyamuzi who lost his parliamentary seat for allegedly failing to declare his assets and that of the two ministers, one of whom still retains his seat in parliament.In the Lukyamuzi Vs. AG case court in my view erroneously held that in cases of a dispute between the IGG and accused party, the IGG can constitute itself into a tribunal. This reasoning defeated the principals of natural justice upon which the administrative functions of the IGG are premised.There is an urgent need by the minister responsible to revise the IGG Act and make for provisions that will address the composition of the tribunal, and the mandate of the tribunal.The IGG should not stop at the successful prosecution of corrupt officials. That public officer must seize all ill-gotten assets, auction them and remit the proceeds to the Consolidated Fund for national development.There is also the need for government to merge the Inspectorate of Government and the Prevention of Corruption Statutes to prevent an overlap of roles between the IGG and Director of Public Prosecution. By having one body of laws governing the anti-corruption regime, the law enforcement officers’ work will become much easily. NEXT: The government should protect national parks from encroachers.
The writer is a Journalist and Advocatemsserwanga@gmail.commsserwanga.blogspot.com 0772 43 46 77