IGG Kamya’s ‘investigation’ will fire blanks
What you need to know:
- Recently, several ministers and fat cat government officials fell under the Argus-eye of public scrutiny following allegations that they fraudulently diverted relief items (meant for vulnerable communities) from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).
Inspector General of Government (IGG) Beti Kamya said during the week that government ministers will be dragged to court, kicking and screaming, if need be, should there be evidence that they stole relief iron sheets meant for the vulnerable in the Karamoja sub-region.
Recently, several ministers and fat cat government officials fell under the Argus-eye of public scrutiny following allegations that they fraudulently diverted relief items (meant for vulnerable communities) from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).
“I want to assure Ugandans that if there’s cause for prosecution or even, we shall prosecute... If there’s enough grounds for prosecution, we shall prosecute,” Kamya said on NBS television.
As much as IGG Kamya’s intentions are good, the road to hell is often paved with good intentions.
This is simply because Kamya is reserving her fire and ire for the beneficiaries of a corrupt system, but not its benefactors.
These benefactors are the architects of the neo-patrimonial National Resistance Movement (NRM) State which, to all intents and purposes, is a military state with a military manner of doing things.
In this vein, it has what we shall call a “quartermaster system” defining and underlining its every initiative.
To explain further, “quartermaster” is a military term. In land armies, a quartermaster is a relatively senior soldier who supervises stores or barracks and distributes supplies and provisions.
When applied to political economy, the quartermaster may be regarded as a patron who controls and distributes the spoils of state to his or her political and economic advantage.
This quartermaster procedure is played out by government agency or enterprise entering into lucrative joint-venture contracts with ‘foreign investors’ in energy, manufacturing, distribution or trading.
The said partnership between ‘foreign capital’ and the ruling elite is established by domestic earnings as government uses state resources to facilitate so-called investors as these investors plough their profits back into leaders’ coffers.
The quartermaster system also helps hide the details of the transactions between foreign investor and NRM functionaries beneath secretive layers of legal offshore companies.
Thus, in going after ministers, the IGG’s has an eye on the frame and not the picture when it comes to viewing the real monster of corruption in Uganda.
Indeed, diverted relief items are the tip of the iceberg.
They are really a means by which those who are not ‘eating big’ also ‘eat’ something.
If the IGG seriously wants to get to the bottom of corruption in Uganda, she should treat the diverted relief items as puzzle pieces to the overall question regarding what this quartermaster system is doing to the country.
After this is done, the quartermaster system should be dismantled to reinvigorate economic activity and reduce poverty.
Accordingly, instead of investments being made in phony foreign investors; investments should be re-routed towards human capital, through regulations that facilitate investment and job creation, and through measures to reduce inequality and debt-financed public spending.
Again, more discussions must be held about private sector-led growth, macroeconomic stability and the uptake of digital technologies.
However, this can only be done if we separate the wheat from the chaff by realising that errant ministers are outgrowths of an errant system.
Mr Matogo is a professional copywriter