Recently, President Museveni issued 15 new orders to cabinet, aimed at propelling Uganda to middle economy status. The orders include; building 22 industrial parks, expeditious licensing of businesses, promoting agro-processing, accelerating building of an oil refinery and pipeline and stopping environmental degradation.
The other orders are; improving health and education service delivery, solving land ownership wrangles, improving the welfare of soldiers and veterans, and reviving the defunct national airline. The President also promised to give sub-orders to all relevant ministries.
We welcome these orders, if they herald a new beginning of doing government business. Directives on health, education and land are particularly welcome as they concern the ordinary Ugandan citizen.
We are even more impressed on the President’s order on zero tolerance to corruption. This comes on the back hills of the President’s comments during the searing-in ceremony when he promised to defeat corruption in his new term.
However, precedence shows that this government is good at making promises and programmes, but poor at implementation. In fact this is not the first time the President is giving directives. Previous government programmes have failed due to corruption and political interference.
For these orders to work effectively, the President must let government institutions work independently. Agencies like the Inspectorate of Government (IG), Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), Office of the Auditor General (OAG) and Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA), should be left to function independently as per their mandate. This is premised on the fact that previous reports have revealed that political interference frustrates corruption cases.
Secondly, government must check the unnecessary wastage of public resources. The Auditor General’s report FY2014/15 revealed that at least shs26.1bn had been lost through nugatory expenditures. We have also seen on several occasions government vehicles and other assets wasting away. Reports also abound of government drugs expiring in stores, as multitudes of Ugandans die from treatable diseases. Government is also losing money through shoddy work and questionable court awards.
In this process, accountability is paramount and one of the hindrances to effective government accountability is Parliament’s failure to debate the Auditor General’s reports. Parliamentary committees of PAC, COSASE and LGAC have consistently for over 10 years failed to debate these reports. This means public funds have gone to waste unabated.
One of the reasons highlighted for this backlog is limited funding and the fact that these committees are not given priority by Parliament. As a matter of urgency, Parliament should accord accountability committees resources to ensure that pending reports are finalized.
Call to Action
If these orders are to work effectively, the President must respect the independence of institutions especially accountability MDAs like IG, DPP, OAG, PPDA and others. These institutions must fulfill their mandate of ensuring that public funds are put to good use.
The President should institute periodic reviews to ensure that these orders are implemented. Ugandans should be informed periodically on the progress of these orders.
Parliament should accord committees of PAC, COSASE and LGAC more priority in terms of resources.
Ms. Cissy Kagaba
Executive Director, Anti Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU)
0772628129 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Peter Wandera (TIU)
Executive Director, Transparency International Uganda
0753504631 / email@example.com