By Joe Wacha
It eventually emerged that the current wave of ‘eating’ of public money has not spared the first family. The report perhaps only served to put more weight on what had become common vibe on the streets, bars or salons, which many people had already grown tired of.
Last week, the Ugandan media carried stories with quotes from the Attorney General’s report saying Janet Kataaha Museveni, the wife of the President and Minister for Karamoja Affairs, had also joined the list or at least been officially mentioned. It said the president’s wife had squandered donor money that should have been used to eradicate poverty in the semi-arid Karamoja region and the recovering northern Uganda.
The money, in hundreds of millions of shillings, the report said, had been spent by the first Lady on several trips to Israel. The trips were so frequent within only a short period of time, said the report that she would have practically served better as an Ambassador to Israel.
Some of the same day’s press reports were that the Anti Corruption Court had acquitted three senior government officials of graft charges that relate to their alleged involvement in misappropriating public finances during the thieving extravaganza; the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2007.
The only common denominator in nearly all cases of corruption ever registered in Uganda, is the suspects. And their names come up with monotonous regularity every time corruption is mentioned. The home boys occupy all the key jobs or at least have guaranteed access to what matters most – the coffers. It’s perhaps from the thought that one should surround oneself with what is familiar and safe.
And this, perhaps, is the most difficult link in fighting corruption: dealing with the nearest and dearest. Reminds me of an incident early last week, which I thought represented many things about our society.
It’s not possible to easily recount all the demonstrations that have taken place in Uganda lately. But the thing one can effortlessly remember about the demonstrations is the police brutality. Yet, when the wives of the police officers held an unusual demonstration, the always strong and alert servicemen could not lift a finger to apply the rough treatment that has become their trademark!
Familiarity may breed contempt but in the corruption lingua, it can only mean one thing: protection.