Investigate, punish those who abused Covid-19 cash

Dr Monica Musenero, the minister of Science, Technology and Innovation. The ministry engaged in irregular Covid-related procurements. Photo/File

What you need to know:

The issue: Abuse of Covid-19 cash.

Our view: This theft by some public officials is a slap in the face to the average Ugandans who lost their jobs, livelihoods, lives and are still struggling to recover from the two years of misery the Covid pandemic visited on their lives.

At the beginning of 2020, reports of a new disease spreading across the globe dominated both local and international media. Fear and uncertainty spread as governments all over the world pondered on how to deal with the disease that was that was causing hospitalisation and deaths within a short period of time.

Governments reacted by closing their borders and forcing their citizens to stay at home. And that was how Uganda too went into a nationwide lockdown, with people restricted from leaving their houses or gathering in groups.

As a result of staying at home with no means of earning an income, Ugandans went through untold misery. People starved to death and were abused by security personnel who were enforcing the Covid-19 guidelines.

Businesses that were considered non-essential went for months without operating and people lost their jobs and livelihoods. Schools went on to close for nearly two years and proprietors were forced to either sell or convert their schools into other businesses.

Government appealed for help from citizens to be able to buy protective equipment for the frontline health workers and in the end it borrowed money to cover the gap.

But as Ugandans went through this period of pain and uncertainty, there were reports of government officials profiting from the pandemic. There were whispers among locals that their friends, relatives or neighbours were amassing wealth overnight.

Stories were told of average-salaried civil servants putting up properties worth hundreds of millions of shillings and buying swathes of land. This all happened as many families struggled for free posho and beans from government.

But these rumours were confirmed to be true this week after a classified report handed over to the Speaker of Parliament said a lot of money meant to fight Covid-19 in the financial years 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 was either wasted or misappropriated.

The report by the Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga, for instance, said the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations (MoSTI) engaged in irregular Covid-related procurements. In the case of Ministry of Health, officials too were accused of wasting a lot of the money. Several contracts were given to firms owned by the same people, money was spent on unutilised goods and services, and there were unexplained budget overruns.

This theft by some public officials is a slap in the face to the average Ugandans who lost their jobs, livelihoods, lives and are still struggling to recover from the two years of misery the Covid pandemic visited on their lives.

For this, we appeal to government to investigate and punish those who abused Covid-19 cash.

Our commitment to you

We pledge:

  • To be accurate and fair in all we do.
  • To be respectful to all in our pursuit of the truth.
  • To refuse to accept any compensation beyond that provided by Monitor Publications Ltd. for what we do in our news gathering and decision-making.

Further, we ask that we be informed whenever you feel that we have fallen short in our attempt to keep these commitments.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.