Opinion: Apparently, a bribe isn’t a bribe according to High Court Justice Bashaija

Presidential Handshake: “A letter from the President that designate unsolicited funds to civil servants as areward” or as a “handshake”, which by some is deemed as an “error of judgement”, but not defined as a bribe. Even if it looks like a bribe and smells like a bribe” (Minbane – ‘Presidential Handshake’ Definition, 2020).

I don’t know what goes through some people’s mind, I don’t if Kampala High Court Justice Andrew Bashaija is trying to be the devils advocate or something. But the news in the Independent Magazine on the Saturday 15th February 2020 titled: “Court clears ‘presidential handshake’ beneficiaries”. Where the article states this about the judgement made on the Friday 14th February 2020: “Justice Andrew Basahaija ruled on Friday that the recommendations of the committee were illegal and said the orders of the committee “be removed from public orders and should not be implemented.” He said he didn’t find anything wrong with the officials who received the money” (Independent Magazine, 16.02.2020).

We can really see that a Justice, a man who judges on the basis of the law are able to make it legal to steal, thieving and directly eat out of the state coffers without any consequence. Instead throwing the book at the ones doing oversight of the state, the MPs and the COSASE Committee who worked on the case and looked into the shady 6 billion shillings “Presidential Handshake”. Clearly, the state has its benefactors, maybe even the Justice is awaiting his handshake in the future. Because something is up, when your making these sort of deals legal.

It’s like this part of the COSASE report was dismissed without merit:

As a follow up to the H.E. the President’s letter of 16th November, 2015, the Commissioner General of URA wrote to the Permanent Secretary/Secretary to Treasury (PS/TS) in a letter dated 11th December, 2015 (App. B6) requesting him to formally designate her as accounting Officer through whom the reward would be paid and to formally requisition for the UGX 6,000,000,000 (Uganda Shillings Six Billions Only)” (…) “The Commissioner General, as advised and in a letter dated 5th May 2016 (App. B8) sought authority from the Hon. Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to reallocate UGX. 6 Billion (Uganda Shillings Six Billion Only) from URA Tax Refund Account to URA Expenditure Account so that the 42 Public Officers could be paid and suggested that a supplementary to URA for that amount to be considered and handled by the Hon. Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. The Hon. Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development did not grant this authority. However, by letter dated 19th October, 2016 (App. B10) he requested the Auditor General to issue an audit warrant for UGX 6 Billion” (COSASE, P: 10-11, 2017).

It’s like the whole deal is left in the wind by the Justice himself. That this sought of transaction is okay, as long as the President write letters directing it. Even if it was never budgeted from, never was part of state functions and this was an direct pay-off, as the Public Officers was a part of tax battle with Tullow Oil. This case amounted in a tax victory for the state, but not for the civil servants. That’s why this “Presidential Handshake” is a bribe and envelopes given without protocol.

Like the Justice is saying COSASE report and recommendations should be implemented. With saying that it wasn’t legal what the culprits at Uganda Revenue Authority was doing, neither the President, but instead putting the blame on the people writing the report. Which is again fun-fan fiction of political science and governance. As you are again targeting the messengers and not the ones actually talking. Your aiming your guns at the ones reporting the ordeal, not the ones actually doing it. That is what the Justice is in this point is doing.

So, the state can live in denial, because the old man with the hat is directing it. That doesn’t make it illegal. But surely, if a small local councillor did this to his fellow employees. He would be meeting the State House – Anti Corruption Unit in a hot minute. But he didn’t have the blessing of the “high above” from the same State House. That is the pin-point, that makes a difference between what is legal and what is illegal.

If the King did the decree or not. If he hasn’t signed off on it, its illegal and if he does sign-off on it; then it’s legal. That is the golden rule in the Republic or the legal term of a “Presidential Handshake”.

When the state can make internal thieving legal, what else could they do with their power? I don’t want to know, but I am sure its more sinister than a 6bn shillings handshake. Peace.

Opinion: Katuntu now have to bite the bullet!

Abdu Katuntu got to keep the position and chairman of the Parliament’s Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) on overtime to finish a report on the closure of 7 defunct banks in the Republic. He got the lifeline by the Speaker Rebecca Kagada in Parliament in January, as he wasn’t ready to deliver the report.

Katuntu as the MP who ran the committee decided on when to drop the report, which the report was dropped on the 19th February 2019. Now, today the IGG letter of the 19th February 2019 asked the Internal Security Organization (ISO) to look into the investigations and the possible kick-backs for a lenient report, which this was. The Report dropped was sleek, soft and guarded. Therefore, the question of what the COSASE is shielding or didn’t dig into could come into question.

If there was some bankers, some inside Bank of Uganda or anyone else of the Stakeholders of the defunct banks would enforce kick-backs to the Chairman and the Committee wouldn’t be surprising in relations to this is the Republic of Presidential Handshakes. In the Republic where the MPs are paid for voting in favour of favourable bills and motions of the Presidents agenda. Therefore, the initial idea of the IGG fits the state of affairs.

BUT, this is a hit-job, as this is leaked as the COSASE is getting new leadership, as the report has been delivered to the public and to the Parliament. The IGG and AG could act upon the work that Katuntu delivered. Nevertheless, there are more stakes at hand, as there are invisible hands overshadowing, as the cronies and investors, whose could be close to the President could be implicated. That is why the President was so adamant statements about the whole investigation and that it should have been done behind closed-doors. However, that didn’t happen.

Katuntu thought he did good, thought he delivered for the ones he made promises too. He thought with the extended time and promise of leverage, that he wouldn’t be hit. However, the President and his security organization is still on a vengeance. They are retaliating now, because the state suddenly looks into it. Because, the state is trying to save face.

It is weird timing that they are starting to investigate now, as they could have looked into the issues within the BoU before this, as there was plenty of banks closed wrongfully. Still, it didn’t matter then, but now it does. That looks weird and looks like a hit-job.

That Katuntu is now the latest victim… not the last, whose being used, tricked and later discarded. Peace.

A brief look into the COSASE Report: Digest the lack of due diligence!

Well, sooner or later this report was bound to happen as the deadline of the Parliament’s Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) report into 7 defunct banks in the Republic. It had to be interesting to see how the National Treasury or National Bank, the Bank of Uganda handled it, as the Bank have been going around all cowboy and not with protocol. As the proper guidance nor minutes have arrived to the COSASE as the months of investigations has gone on.

As well, the lack of trust between the parties, lawyers and stakeholders itself. Therefore, the report, had to stinking of it, the lack of due diligence and care for delivering proper craftsmanship, where the profession and their ethics are shining true.

Instead the process of investigation have shown utter contempt of honesty and transparency, as documents have gone missing and people have taken trips away, while they were supposed to testify to the Committee.

That is the introduction. Let’s dig into the mess, which was unleashed today on the 21st February 2019.

The committee further observed that there are no documents relating to the post closure and management of Teefe Trust Bank assets and liabilities. This further complicates the process of winding up including resolving claims and some securities still in possession of the Central Bank” (COSASE, P: 9, 2019).

No inventory report was availed in respect of ICB but an inception report for liquidation by the Liquidation Agcnt (KPMG) dated 30th September 2001” (…)”without a proper inventory report, BoU did not know what it was taking over in terms of entirety of assets and value. Accordingly, BoU acted in breach of section 32 (3), of the FIS, 1993” (COSASE, P: 10, 2019).

Sold on the Same Day:

What further the report states is that the National Bank of Commerce was closed and sold on the same day. This being done on the 27th September 2012. The takeover and sale took only 6 hours time and was in convention of the FIA. The same actions happen to Global Trust Bank (U) Limited, which was closed and sold on the same day, on the 25th July 2014. This was also done in convention of the FIA.

While on Crane Bank:

The auditors produced the inventory report on 21st of December 2016 however, BoU had invited DFCU to bid for the purchase of assets and assumption of liabilities of CBL on 9nd December 2016 and subsequently DFCU submitted the bid on the 20th December 2016 a day before the production of the inventory report” (…) “BoU did not carry out valuation of the assets and liabilities of CBL. BUT relied on the inventory report and due diligence undertaken by DFCU to accept their bid to arrive at the P&A. However, the final inventory report was submitted on 13th January 2017. In essence, the final inventory report was never used in evaluating the bid for the purchase of assets and assumption of liabilities of CBL” (COSASE, P: 12 & 13, 2019).

Selling assets on discounts:

In the case of ICB, Greenland Bank and Co-operative Brank, the total loan portfolio sold of UGX 135bn included secured loans of UGX 34.5bn which had valid legal or equitable mortgage on the real property and were supported with legal documentation BUT were sold, to M/s Nile River Acquisition Company at 93% discount” (…) “Whereas the GTB and NBC discount percentages of 20 and 30% respectively appear reasonable, the 93% discount in respect of the loan portfolio of ICB, Greenland Bank and Co-operative Bank acquired by M/s NRAC was incredibly outrageous” (COSASE, P: 23-24, 2019).

Winding Up:

The winding up process of all the defuct banks has taken an unjustifiably long time to settle creditor claims. For Teefe Trust Bank (26 years), Co-operative Bank (20 years), ICB (21 years), Greenland Bank (20 years), NBC (7 years), GTB (5 years) and CBL (2 years)!!! Regrettably, many of the creditors and shareholders have and indeed continue to die” (…) “Due to absence of documents, it was not possible to ascertain whether the UGX.9 1 .22bn used to settle customer claims of ICB, Cooperative bank and Greenland bank went to the bonafide beneficiaries. The absence of documents could among others be attributed to the long delay in concluding the winding up process” (COSASE, P: 39, 50 2019).

This is really just a proof of some of the mismanagement and quotes that proves how the Bank of Uganda didn’t do due diligence. They didn’t fix the issues, neither the work that was needed for the distressed financial institutions, the BoU didn’t follow the laws and statutes. All of the banks seems to be closed without protocol. Without proper documentation, neither overlooking assets and the securities.

Therefore, the Bank of Uganda … have not acted as the Central Bank and having the supervisory role over the financial market. They have surely acted in ill-will and not like they are supposed too. If not, these seven banks shouldn’t been closed like this, even closed and sold within 24 hours. Peace.

Uganda Law Society (ULS) Statement on the Ongoing Industrial Action by the Uganda Association of Prosecutors (25.10.2017)

Bank of Uganda did not Hide Funds on a Foreign Account (07.08.2017)

Presidential Handshake: It’s now revealed that the President is trying to pin someone to “fall on one’s sword”!

The continued exhausting of the Presidential handshake shows the true form of the bribe. Even as the President himself, tries to clean his hands and pin-point more people. He still did sanction it directly from the Uganda Revenue Authority and onto the vast civil servants and loyal cronies, as a bribe and brown envelope of joy. Even if the stories keep coming and more people being implicated, the reality is that this shows that the whole system is rotten.

The maladministration and clearly not caring about state reserves comes to the public court. The Public know knows that the President and his State House, are only trying to find a scapegoat and a perfect victim, to save face and look good, without taking down somebody who knows to much. They know that to many people has gotten ill-earned millions in envelopes because of this Presidential Handshake. That the probe would have questions to the President was most likely, and we could anticipate that someone else would fall on their sword. If they will do it voluntarily and might do it with force from the State House.

Oxford Dictionary states about “Fall on one’s sword”:

Assume responsibility or blame on behalf of other people, especially by resigning from a position.

he heroically fell on his sword, insisting that it was his decision’ (Oxford Dictionary).

So when you read part of the piece in the Daily Monitor today, you see how the President tries to wash his hands of sin and put blame on the Ministers and others. So he will talk to the culprit and make sure that he falls on his sword for him.

Museveni pinning people down for the handshake:

Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu,who is leading the inquiry by the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises(Cosase), confirmed at a press briefing on Friday that Mr Museveni wants the Committee to ensure that the missing money is accounted for. “The President said he was not aware [that Shs5b is unaccounted for] and he was happy that we were going to follow it up. He reiterated his commitment to accountability and he said any monies spent from the public coffer should be accounted for. He encouraged us to have this money accounted for by the Justice Ministry Accounting Officer [Solicitor General],”Mr Katuntu said. Mr Katuntu revealed that the Solicitor General will be cross-examined again over the whereabouts of the Shs5b before a report is compiled mapping out his fate. During the ingoing inquiry, Mr Atoke failed to give conclusive accountability for the money. During the course of the two meetings, Mr Museveni also singled out former Energy Minister Syda Bbumba for inserting a clause in the Production Sharing Agreement that allowed Tullow a $157m tax waiver for an out of court settlement involving Tullow. The signing of a PSA to exempt Tullow from $157m was done by Ms Bbumba without the knowledge of the President, Mr Katuntu confirmed. “The President said he was not aware of that exemption. The President agreed with us that the exemption was illegal because the then Minister did not have power to exempt payment of tax. We informed the President that we are following up this matter and we will have a conversation with Syda Bbumba,”Mr Katuntu said” (Arinaitwe, 2017).

Now that Honorable Syda Bbumba is the one to blame now, not the ones applying for it or the ones who gained the ill-willed state coffer monies. Not long ago, it was revealed to come from the wrong account, directly from URA and not State House. Now it is a Minister Bbumba who acted without consistent legal procedure, nor talked with the authorities before the money went on its merry. Certainly the other part of what happen this mid-week reveals certain aspects worth noting!

Asking for favors:

According to our sources, as soon as the president ended his testimony, some MPs took turns to speak privately with him. According to multiple sources familiar with the Entebbe meeting, Katuntu effectively contained the MPs during the committee’s official business session at State House but when that ended, MPs went on rampage. “After the meeting, the president invited us for a group photo and this is when the MPs started [whispering],” said an MP who attended the meeting. This MP singled out Beatrice Anywar (Kitgum Municipality), Hood Katuramu (PWDs Western) and Vincent Woboya (Budadiri East) as some of the MPs that approached Museveni with requests for favours. This was after they saw the committee vice chairperson Anita Among whisper to Museveni. Anywar reportedly invited the president to attend her thanksgiving next month in Kitgum. “She has not been attending the committee meetings. In fact, we didn’t go with her on [Wednesday]. I think her coming on the second day was purposely to see Museveni, not [to be part of] the probe,” one MP said” (Kaaya, 2017).

So the system is rigged and he isn’t only looking for someone to take the blame for the Presidential Handshake, he also sees who are loyal to him if they get favors. Similar to the Handshake. They wants and requests favors from the President, because he has done so in the past. And most likely do it again, that is the way he keeps the cronyism alive and the Movement booming. If he stops paying and delivering brown-envelopes to political affiliates he will lose his base and his MP’s. But because of this Presidential Handshake he has to play smart and look like he cares about fighting corruption, even though his State House is thriving on it.

That this would take such long time isn’t surprising as they are trying to find one who can take the blame, without to much cost and lose of face value to the hierarchy and the State House. Nevertheless, the bribe is still a bribe, even if they try to color it differently, there isn’t a gray-area to put it into. The reality is still the same. That certain elements now this week ask for favors from the President proves the handouts and the handshakes are a systemic and institutionalized affairs at the State House.

The issue with the Presidential Handshake is more of a gimmick as the state tries to find the one who will take the charge and eat, so that the President can say: “See there my Ugandan people, I work against corruption”. But the next day, another MP will pop by Entebbe or Nakasero and ask for favor, an envelope or even a handshake. So that they can be bought into submission, which is the given state and the system that President Museveni believes in. Peace.

Reference:

Arinaitwe, Solomon – ‘Museveni pins SG Atooke over oil cash’ (01.05.2017) link:http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Museveni-pins-SG-Atooke-over-oil-cash/688334-3909560-g9wigk/index.html

Kaaya, Sadab Kitatta – ‘Oil cash probe MPs beg from Museveni’ (01.05.2017) link:http://observer.ug/news/headlines/52653-oil-cash-probe-mps-beg-from-museveni.html

Oxford Dictionary – ‘fall on one’s sword’ link:https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/fall_on_one’s_sword

ULS Response on Invitation to meet the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Entreprises (COSASE) – (23.02.2017)

uls-23-02-2017