What you need to know:
The issue: Corruption
Our view: The Anti-Corruption Bill 2013 which provides for the mandatory confiscation of property of persons convicted of corruption or corruption-related offences should be effected otherwise many Ugandans will be left in tears.
In 2017, land owners in Lamwo District offered more than 50 square-miles of land in Palabek-kal and Palabek-ogili sub-counties to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to accommodate 40,000 South Sudanese refugees.
Today, however, the refugees have encroached on the estates of their hosts, and are accused of raiding and destroying their gardens. The hosts’ pleas to authorities for solutions have since fallen on deaf ears, according to our article titled, ‘Conflicts brew between OPM, Lamwo landlords’.
The land owners, who interacted with us, expressed dissatisfaction over delays by the OPM to issue their allowances as earlier agreed.
Also, the OPM is accused of failure to compensate them for seven graves and three houses that were demolished while opening up roads inside the resettlement land.
In securing the land from the host communities, the OPM committed that it would ensure they have adequate access to clean and safe water supply, education (primary, vocational and secondary), and livelihood support projects, including the construction and maintenance of roads.
The OPM also promised to establish health facilities, offer livelihood support, provide employment opportunities to qualified members of the community as well as invest in environmental preservation and rehabilitation.
But the failure to fulfil its obligations has left many landowners frustrated according to the chairperson of Palabek-ogili, Mr Christopher Omal.
It seems to be scandal after scandal at the OPM, the office charged with coordination of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
In 2018, funds meant for refugees were abused with the United Nations asking the government to take action.
Then, Ms Rosa Malango, the UN Country Representative raised three major issues; doubtful number of refugees in Uganda; abuse of funds and other resources by some officials and suspected trafficking in girls and women refugees.
Almost five years on, many of those involved in the scandal appear to have avoided legal or professional repercussions although some were suspended after the scandal broke.
In 2020, four senior officials of the OPM were arrested by the Anti-Corruption Unit of State House over inflating Covid19 relief food prices costing the government about Shs4 billion.
Just last year, the Anti-Corruption Court charged three other OPM officers over allegations that they procured substandard food and non-food items including blankets and mosquito nets meant for Kasese Flood victims.
The government has lost billions of shillings in such grand corruption schemes and mismanagement of public funds that often enrich a few individuals.
Something needs to be done urgently. The Anti-Corruption Bill 2013 which provides for the mandatory confiscation of property of persons convicted of corruption or corruption-related offences should be effected otherwise many Ugandans will be left in tears.
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