The East African Inspectorate of Government’s meeting yesterday admitted that the “fight against corruption was fighting back” but a framework granting them powers to recover and confiscate property of corrupt officials is in the offing.
The IGGs of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania, under their umbrella—East African Association of Ant-Corruption Authorities (EAAACA), said a body to oversee seizure of property has already been put in place, and [they] are moving towards its strengthening and operationalising.
“The body, Asset Recovery Inter-agency Network in East Africa (ARIN-EA) has already been instituted to spearhead the process, but we are first embarking on the harmonisation of the respective country laws on corruption,” remarked, Justice Irene Mulyagonja, the IGG Uganda, “Since we are moving fast into the East African Community this should be our priority as well [should be] for the leaders at legislative level.”
Justice Mulyagonja, the outgoing EAAACA chairperson was handing over mantle to incoming chair, Mr Mumo Matemu, also head of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission of Kenya. EAAACA was formed in 2012 and underscores the growing need for anti-corruption agencies to synergise in adapting to the evolving challenges of combating graft through increasing interaction between low-stung countries and where it’s endemic.
Listing his priorities, Mr Matemu, said: “operationalising and strengthening ARIN-EA will be the focus to make sure its principle objectives are achieved.” He added, this “we shall start by formulating and implementing strategies that strengthen the independence of anti-corruption authorities” and employment of policies to trigger behavioral change, in corruption laden agencies, notably, government offices.
A report released last year by the New York based Human Rights Watch titled “Let the Big Fish Swim” on Uganda’ high profile corruption lauded the ombudsman for cracking whip on corrupt bureaucrats but said, well as no high profile official had been brought forward there was need for policy to confiscate property to recoup stolen money.
The IGGs also decried the limited funding to anti-corruption activities and the shortage of manpower.
The framework on recovery property when finalised will be presented to the East African Community Council of Ministers and thereafter to regional legislative assembly for adoption, which Mr Mutemu said, “would be later in the year.”