Uganda: Deceiver-in-Chief Masks Corruption with Phoney Reforms

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With U.N. chief Antonio Guterres. After invading South Sudan to back Salva Kiir, Museveni worsened tefugee crisis; now his regime hopes to reap financial benefits from tragedy he helped spark.
Photo: U.N.

When Gen. Yoweri Museveni took over power in 1986, he inherited a vibrant public service and sound government infrastructure.

It’s only the army that he had successfully dismantled.

He came into office with a biased mindset that the officials manning the different government structures owed their loyalty to the previous regimes. He was therefore concerned over how to bring into the public service his regime cohorts.
To overcome this hurdle, he went ahead to discard some statutory bodies and instead created new ones to run parallel to Ministries.

Consequently, over 40 statutory bodies have been created during the years he has held onto power. These agencies and authorities have been attracting huge funding from both the central government and external donors.

Gen. Museveni has been the sole appointing authority for the top executives of these agencies who in turn have been recruiting and firing staff as opposed to the public service standing orders. Gen. Museveni has directly been sending individuals to these agencies to be employed as top and middle cadre staff and that is why they are dominated by people from his home region and a few regime cohorts from other regions. The mode of recruitment has been based on patronage not on merit.

Their salaries and emoluments are high above the salary structure of mainstream public servants for example the Executive Director of Uganda Revenue Authority’s monthly salary is equivalent to the monthly salary of twelve doctors in a government hospital while the salary of her driver is equivalent to that of three doctors.

These agencies have been agents of theft of public money and land grabbing. The people from those ethnic groups who are dominating them have accumulated immense wealth that will sustain them and their generations to come.

The recent discovery by Ugandans that Gen. Museveni had dished out 6b shillings (US$ 1.7 million) to a group of 42 public servants who are also among the best paid in the country, ignited a serious debate on wanton sectarian and patronage driven misuse of tax payers' money. It brought into question the disparity in remuneration prompting Museveni to order for putting in place a Salary Review Commission--another one of his shameless public relations stunts The agencies have always been more funded and facilitated than their mother ministries.

By making a sudden about turn and questioning their relevancy and efficiency, he is attempting to diffuse the rising tempers by pretending to do away with these agencies yet in actual fact he is intending to push his own people who have been manning them into mainstream public service through the back door.

It is these atrocities that Museveni is trying to cover up from public scrutiny and possible legal proceedings.

When the opposition leader, Dr. Besigye was rigged out of the February 2016 general elections, he threatened to form a parallel government. He mentioned disbanding and restructuring of these bogus agencies which to this date remains top on his agenda. Somehow Museveni got to know about it and he is now trying to act smart.

The regime is financially bankrupt and on top of the money generated by the presence of refugees and the Somalia Peace Keeping Mission, it intends to tap into and take direct control of the external funding for some of these agencies.

Otherwise, if Gen. Museveni is serious with cutting the cost and ensuring efficiency, he would reduce the size of his over 75 Cabinet Ministers, over 400 Members of Parliament, over 130 District Commissioners and the over 100 useless "Presidential Advisors" not to mention the sacks of millions of tax payers' money that he dishes out at public functions.

It is through the same method of creating parallel units that he has managed to undermine the performance of the armed forces and other security agencies.

Once again, Gen. Museveni has duped gullible Ugandans and they are preparing to resume their deep slumber. By the time they wake up again, it will be around the next elections season and he will have prepared another doze of anesthesia.

Moreover, at the end of the day his strategic agencies will remain intact.

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