Officials in iron sheets saga should step aside
What you need to know:
- The issue: Iron sheets scandal.
- Our view: It’s only logical for any official named or implicated in any misconduct to step aside.
- There’s need to safeguard investigations from undue interference.
The President has directed the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (CID) and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to prosecute ministers and other officials named in the diversion of iron sheets, goats and maize meant for the poor people in Karamoja sub-region.
Some suspects have admitted diverting the iron sheets and decided to return them to the Office of the Prime Minister. Some have not uttered a word, hoping and at the same time praying that the scandal dies off like many others before. But others like State minister for Planning, Mr Amos Lugoloobi, have not had peace of mind for taking 600 iron sheets meant for the poor people.
In a surprise move this month, Mr Lugoloobi removed the Karamoja iron sheets he had used to roof a shelter for goats on his private farm in Misanga Village, Bbaale Sub-county in Kayunga District, calling them “evil”.
Just like Karamoja minister Mary Goretti Kitutu, the main suspect in the iron sheets saga, Mr Lugoloobi and others remain in public offices as if the poor people have nothing against them.
The appointing authority should walk the talk and ask all the suspects in the iron sheets scandal to step aside in public interest.
There are 21 ministers, 28 MPs, 15 Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) and other 100 or so institutions and individuals involved in the diversion of iron sheets, goats and maize meant for the poor people in Karamoja.
While we welcome the President’s determination in the fight against corruption, we call upon all the suspects in the iron sheets scandal to step aside pending investigations.
The culture of impunity and abuse of office that President Museveni has condemned for years, and even vowed to fight, has grown to such impossible proportions that suspects no longer see any sense in resignation, even when they are caught red-handed. But this must stop. Our leaders must learn to take responsibility or else we risk hindering the war against “parasites that are like flies swarming around public funds”.
The war against corruption is losing steam each passing day and some suspects in government as well as private offices have developed immunity against prosecution. People don’t understand what became of the promise to fight thieves. They have given up and accepted corruption as a necessary evil. Uganda, according to IGG’s latest figures, loses Shs10 trillion annually to corruption.
Officials in the iron sheets scandal should know that stepping aside doesn’t in any way corrode the fundamental human rights principle of “innocent until proven guilty”. It’s only logical for any official named or implicated in any misconduct to step aside. There’s need to safeguard investigations from undue interference.