News / Africa

Britain and Ireland Suspend Aid to Uganda after Millions Go Missing

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni
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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

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Douglas Mpuga
Britain has joined Ireland in suspending aid to Uganda’s office of the prime minister.  The move comes after a draft report by Ugandan’s auditor-general found that over $15 million [€12 million]  in aid had been transferred to unauthorized accounts in the office of the Ugandan prime minister.

The money was meant to have been spent on helping the needy, and to help pay for a ‘peace recovery and development program’ in northern Uganda after decades of conflict and devastation.

The Ugandan government has pledged prosecutions. Two senior officials have been charged, while 17 others have been suspended as the investigation continues.

“This report does not surprise anybody,” said Dr. Fredrick Golooba Mutebi, a political analyst and a visiting fellow at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. The only shock, he added, “is the amounts of money stolen are quite colossal.”

He exonerated Uganda’s Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, saying he has just been appointed to the office and that the theft has been going on for a long time. “The only way you can hold him responsible is that he has been Secretary General for the ruling party for a long time. So you can hold the ruling party responsible, in which case he is culpable.”

Mr. Mbabazi has reportedly publicly apologized to Ireland, saying no money was ever paid to him, and that he never handles the aid money.

He said that although the missing money was discovered in private bank accounts, not all of it was ‘misappropriated,’ but ‘merely irregularly managed,’ according to local media reports.

“I think the government is half-hearted about fighting corruption,’’ said Mutebi. He said the government is able to wage such a fight, but it may not be in its best interest to prosecute senior officials accused of  corruption.

He noted that if the politically influential can behave with impunity, then it's seen as hypocrtical to pursue ordinary members of the public.

The government, he said, is also constrained by the fact that some of its most senior officials are as corrupt as the people who stole money from the prime minister’s office.

Mutebi described the level of impunity in the country. “Impunity in Uganda is not only in connection with corruption, but in connection with various other misdeeds by government officials, and people connected to the ruling party.”

But Mutebi said the donors can do something about the theft of donor funds. “They [donors] could decide to withhold general budget support and go for project funding – where they have a much closer watch over the money.”

“But as long as they [donors] put the money in the government’s kitty, it is really beyond them to control what the government does with it.”

The donors, he explained, could withhold the aid. Donors could claim that if they do that it could be punitive to poor people, but there is no empirical evidence for that.

“If large amounts of donor money are being stolen, in what sense are they going toward funding things that are important to poor people?” he wondered.

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by: SSERUWU ALEX JOHN from: UGANDA
November 01, 2012 12:30 PM
Oh God save Africa, such colossal sums of money swallowed by the very few rich at the expense of the vulnerable poverty stricken nationals!! but Broad day state thievery is not a surprise in Uganda and not news to the people, this is a normal and a daily routine, such grave corruption has been a culture incalculated into the Ugandans social life by the Museveni regime for his regime to survive for all this time, all his kinsmen and stauch friends have been implicated in the mercilessly sucking of the national coffers with impunity while being protected from prosecution and promoted, take examples of Sam Kutesa, Jim Muhwezi, Mbabazi and every public officer has made it a habit to suck the nation to its marrow as the national elders do while punishing and marginalizing the majority poor in the country.

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