Lawmakers in Parliament’s Legal Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs Committee have grilled the Government Inspector General (IGG) over her proposed lifestyle review as a measure to stem rampant corruption in Uganda, saying the scheme could be used to witch-hunt officials.
This came during the scrutiny of the 2022/2023 policy statement for the Government Inspectorate, in which MPs tasked the IGG with explaining how lifestyle screening is conducted and the mechanisms put in place to protect officers from witch hunts.
Stephen Baka (Bukhooli North) commissioned Beti Kamya, the government’s inspector general, to explain the justification for the lifestyle check and wondered why she chose to investigate complex corruption cases when there are Ugandans who openly steal and the stolen Sink money into real estate sector.
He said: “They failed to fish for blatant thieves. Lifestyle means people are very perceptive and you can’t see how they are stealing so you will see how they are dealing with their life. It means they are discreet and shrewd when stealing, which you can’t know, but Ugandans are not shrewd, these people openly steal. How will you handle lifestyle scrutiny of people who are openly corrupt?”
The same concern was expressed by Joanne Okia (Madi-Okollo DWR), who asked for clarification on how the program would be implemented.
“I think sometimes there can be a witch hunt, maybe some clear guidelines on the lifestyle audit and how do you choose which cases to investigate because I’m sure the cases reported could be exceeding capacity, how do you choose the cases to be followed up ?” asked Okia.
However, Kamya defended the lifestyle check, noting that it was one of the methods the IGG used to nail the Prime Minister’s former chief accountant Geoffrey Kazinda for failing to explain in court how he got his fortune may be.
She said: “By its very nature, corruption happens under the table, through proxies. It is very difficult to take a case to court and enforce it in court. The lifestyle audit convicted Kazinda for failing to explain how much wealth he had made his primary source of income. So the Lifestyle Audit puts the onus on the suspect to explain how they got their wealth and I can assure you it will work.”
Kamya also called on Parliament to prioritize the fight against corruption, citing a survey commissioned by the Government Inspectorate that shows Uganda loses Shs 20 trillion annually from corruption-related crimes.
She stated: “A successful war on corruption could save this country Shs20Trn, which accounts for half of the country’s annual budget. They realize that fighting corruption should be the most important activity in Uganda, but IG has been paid for salary and attendance for five years in a row but not for the work they are supposed to do, what they are supposed to do to eliminate corruption .”
Anne Twinomugisha Muhairwe, deputy IGG, also defended the lifestyle check, saying the regulator was also interested in the lifestyles of government employees who have worked for many years but still use public transport despite owning expensive cars and buildings.
She said: “We also know the so-called big fish who live pompously by day and live like kings by night. So if you’re in public service and have worked a certain amount of time, we expect you to live up to a certain standard. We have officers using boda bodas, corona cars and yet we know they own prados and very expensive buildings so we will get them. So we know all the tricks, we will improve our game.”
In the 2022/2023 State Budget, Shs 67.737 billion was allocated to the IG Office, an increase from the Shs 53.437 billion allocated to the agency in the 2021/2022 Budget.
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