The Inspectorate of Government (IGG) has received two petitions on alleged corruption in the Uganda Telecom Ltd (UTL). The complaints from the two camps in the fight were drafted by ‘whistle-blowers’ suspected to be pawns in a rambling political game togged up in personal vendetta as opposed to public interest.
In one of the petitions, a citizen has accused the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga, his deputy Mwesigwa Rukutana and Secretary to the Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi of blocking UTL audit because of vested interests.
The petitioner also asked the IGG to investigate their wealth. The second petition came three days after another whistle-blower asked IGG to probe Investment minister Evelyn Anite’s dealings, including her trip to Mauritius. The whistle-blower also claimed that the minister received a bribe from a Mauritius company.
In the fight against corruption, IGG relies on whistle-blowers and complaints are vetted to ascertain whether they are in good faith. But some have slipped through the cracks. Bogus claims have inadvertently diverted IGG to personal grievances yet the fight against corruption shouldn’t be seen as any kind of vendetta.
Under Section 17 of whistle-blowers Act, a person who knowingly makes a disclosure containing information he or she knows to be false commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding Shs2.4m or both.
A review of at least 10 recent IGG reports found peeved staff or mercenaries posturing as “concerned citizens”. The inspectorate has in the recent years dismissed several complaints after they investigated and found no merit. Whistle-blowers should act in the public interest.
On June 26, IGG received a report into allegations of mismanagement, abuse of office and corrupt practices in Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA). The petition had claimed that none of the nine ferries operated by UNRA had been insured. The IGG, however, found lies in the complaint since UNRA had a running contract with Britam Insurance Company. This was another false disclosure.
Even though UTL petitions were decorously presented to the IGG, it’s our view that such complaints must be judiciously analysed to avoid time wasting. It’s critical that IGG takes some petitions with a pinch of salt to avoid using the ombudsman as a pawn in dubious schemes. Those fighting over UTL should give Auditor General space to do his job.
The fight against corruption is long and tedious. Let’s not burn out before we reach the end. The people who make genuine discloses must be supported, protected and rewarded. And those vending personal vendetta should be isolated in public interest.
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