On Brig Henry Isoke and his State House Anti-Corruption Unit

Author: Asuman Bisiika. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

I told him that special units like SH ACU would do better to follow queries in audit reports than relying (almost exclusively) on informal complaints and whistle blowing.

During my time as Spy-At-Large in the DR Congo, my biggest discovery was actually not diamonds or gold. Neither was it the magic wand that made Congolese music popular. My biggest discoveries in Kinshasa were two things: Radio Trottoir and Article Quinze.

And in typical Congolese fashion, the particulars of the Congolese phenomena of Radio Trottoir and Article Quinze were immortalised in song. Radio Trottoir (gossip) was written by Simaro Massiya and sang by Franco Luambo Makiadi of l’Orchestre TPOK Jazz and Article Quinze was written and sang by Kabaselle Yampanya (Pepe Kalle of l’Orchstre Empire Bakuba). The famous Article Quinze (Corruption) referred to Article 15 of fictional constitution providing for survival on unconventional means (when state collapse visited Mobutu’s Zaire).

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We may deny it but we seem to have caught up with Mobutu’s Zaire. All the ingredients are there but we are still hiding behind high sounding English verbiage. Over 80 percent of the income of public servants is via Article 15 (corruption).

To fight corruption, government has created institutions. One such institution is the State House Anti Corruption Unit. With a weakened Government Inspectorate, the question then is: is State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SH ACU) now the lead agency in the fight against corruption?

How does the AS ACU operate? Does it respond to whistle blowing only? How useful does the SH ACU find audit reports?

Now, State House Anti-Corruption Unit visited (unto) my home district of Kasese. And I must confess I am conflicted to write this at this time. But I must make some revelation: I used to be (very) close to someone heading another State House Unit with almost similar particulars like Brig Henry Isoke’s State House Anti-Corruption Unit.

The word blunder was written on almost all ‘our’ field operations. With all those arrests ‘we executed’, our score on the prosecution side was so miniscule. The head of the unit was so frustrated they were assigned elsewhere. Right now, we don’t even hear about our beloved SH unit.

Even with my conflict of interest in the matter, SH ACU raid on Kasese reminded me of my time with a similar SH unit. We would reach an outpost with so much blaster (verging on highhandedness). The mention of State House sort of gave us immunity to administrative and managerial common sense. We just wanted to arrest… And we loved the cameras.

With the perennial in-fighting in district local governments, a professional investigator would advise him or herself to factor in the fear of a whistle blower’s self-interest. That’s why investigating officers need to maintain a sense of decorum while executing official government duties.

One may ask oneself: why does the SH ACU find fertile ground in district local governments?  Answer: They are easy prey. In upcountry stations, arrests verge on the arbitrary. The arresting officers do not even care about the possibility of a successful prosecution in courts of law.

I had a lengthy phone chat with Brig Isoke, the Head of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit. In spite of my attitude and highly opinionated views, Brig Isoke came out as a very nice fellow (who engaged me with very professional demeanour and candour). He kept reminding me of my conflict of interest.

I told him that his whistle blowers could be using (actually abusing) his office to get at their enemies. He told me his system was tight and no one would abuse it.

I told him that special units like SH ACU would do better to follow queries in audit reports than relying (almost exclusively) on informal complaints and whistle blowing. Dear reader, Brig Isoke needs your moral support (and prayers). He needs it bad.

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of the East African Flagpost. [email protected]

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