Opinion: Uganda government doesn’t need a Presidential Handshake Committee, it needs a strong IGG, PPDA and AG!
In this times and days with the Oil Cash Probe, there are talking of making more government bodies, instead of using the legal authorities and institutions that is already there. We can that as the stalwart organization that even signed a Memorandum of Understanding between Public Procurement And Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA), Office of Attorney General (OAG) and the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) on the 25th January 2017 as these offices wanted to collectively investigate the corrupt and ill behaviour in government.
Justice Irene Mulyagonja Kakooza, the Inspectorate General of Government (IGG) is part of the agreement, still the mission of the IGG is this:
“The Inspectorate of Government is an independent institution charged with the responsibility of eliminating corruption, abuse of authority and of public office. The powers as enshrined in the Constitution and IG Act include to; investigate or cause investigation, arrest or cause arrest, prosecute or cause prosecution, make orders and give directions during investigations; access and search – enter and inspect premises or property or search a person or bank account or safe deposit box among others” (IGG).
So when the IGG has this mandate, should determine the procedures and the abilities to the institution and the legal authority to look into corruption inside the government organizations. Therefore it is worrying when the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) and the Minister Matia Kasaija who had to say this about the Presidential Handshake!
“Kasaija also proposed guidance on presidential favours and donations, saying there should be a system to ensure that the president’s directive does not break the law” (…) “We need to develop a system that can quickly tell the authoriser that one; you are authorising this money it is in accordance with the law. Being busy, and I have to sign almost 100 documents per day that could be a problem. You might find something has escaped [through unchecked]. On presidential favours and donations, I think also there should be a system when the president orders me or directs me particularly to pay, there should be a system that verifies that what the president has asked doesn’t break the law. Maybe it can be instituted on his own side before he writes to me, but I doubt if he has that kind of system. [His directives shouldn’t] break the law and that it is in order according to government policies and practices”, Kasaija said.
So with the recent financial laws there still needs amendments and need more structures as the Public Finance Bill of 2015 Act and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) of 2015, these bills and acts has set the financial regulation, also opened the financial systems for less accountability, therefore the idea from the Daily Monitor editor is fine idea, but shouldn’t be needed!
“Executive practice could repeat its departure from known policy and established procedure, since Uganda is teeming with vampires constantly plotting to exploit a generous ruler who is too busy to study every case in detail. Why not develop a hi-tech gadget to aid the President?
The Concept: A piece of digital hardware on which the President’s cash handouts over the last 10 years are listed, indicating those that have and have not been fulfilled.
Filed, too, are the implied (financial) numbers computed from the current national Budget.
Filed, too, is a map of the citizens’ socio-economic condition.
Filed also are a range of constitutional alarm and barrier-wall features.
Applying the latest algorithmic wizardry, installed software would rapidly survey the data and resolve whether a cash handout the President had just announced was fair, legal and viable. (Voice recognition technology is of course on board.)
Linked to State House, Parliament, Finance and the Auditor General, when the gadget clears or blocks a presidential gift (wherever he announces it), the signal is instantly fired to those destinations” (Tacca, 2017).
So the Daily Monitor wants a direct digital archive of the Presidential Handshakes and instant check-up of the funds. The Oil Cash Probe has revealed lots of inaccurate practices of payments and bonuses to civil servants. Certainly, Presidential Handshake Committee would be nice idea, but isn’t there enough institutions and enough government bodies to fill the void.
That the Inspectorate General Kakooza should have an idea and should fill her mission of the government body she has been running since 2012. There is also the PPDA and their Executive Director Cornelia.K. Sabiiti should use their mandates to stop the corrupt behaviour of government officials and civil servants. Either when it comes through the mandate of the IGG or the PPDA, they are both looking over the government institutions and their use of the public coffers. Why should it then be needed for a separate unit who looks into the handshakes at the State House, unless the President was opting for creating laws accepting the presidential bonuses at any given time for any given work for the government.
A PHC over a IGG, PPDA and Attorney General, is just confusing the mandates, the legal authorities and also, the meaning of what is actual just behaviour. MoFPED has proven they do not have the capacity or the will to show their true records, if so the IGG and other agencies of the state would have found out about the transgression and the will of doling out oil cash willy-nilly. Therefore, to create another unit to counter this specific way of misusing funds seems far-fetched, shows really the weakness of the leadership and the will to question the legality of maladministration. However, if you get even more hands into the cookie-jar, than there are less will to investigate, as the hopes that you are next up to get a free cookie. That is how this seems.
IG Kakooza, should have the focus and the mandate to investigate the Oil Cash probe, unless the Attorney General William Byaruhanga has taken the case or said his authority will investigate the ill-intent themselves, instead of the IGG. So there should be enough hands, and bodies to make sure the breaches of trust and breaking of laws should be taken through tough and just action. That shouldn’t be too hard when all of this already created to be safeguards of society and of the laws. Still, when men of the nations doesn’t trust this and needs to make specific committees for certain types of maladministration, than you know there is weakness of leadership and lack of will to fight the misuse of power. Might even be fear to question the old man with the hat. Because if you do so, you might lose your job and you might not be hired again. Peace.
The Inspectorate of Government – ‘mandate’ link: https://www.igg.go.ug/about/mandate/
Tacca, Alan – ‘And now… a Presidential Handshake Control Unit!’ (12.03.2017) link: http://www.monitor.co.ug/OpEd/Commentary/689364-3845488-t492pv/index.html
The Observer – ‘Oil probe: MPs query double payment to US-based law firm’ (12.03.2017) link: http://observer.ug/news/headlines/51726-oil-probe-mps-query-double-payment-to-us-based-law-firm.html