Opposition MPs Object to UPDF Wealth Declaration Exemption

Opposition MPs Express Concerns Over UPDF Wealth Declaration Exemption
Opposition MPs Express Concerns Over UPDF Wealth Declaration Exemption
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Opposition Members of Parliament in Uganda have raised objections to a proposal that would exempt UPDF (Uganda People’s Defence Force) officers from publicly disclosing their wealth through the Inspectorate of Government (IGG), and instead allow them to do so through the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).

They argue that since the army receives a significant portion of the national budget, there should be no harm in them transparently declaring their legitimately acquired wealth.

Joyce Bagala, Mityana Woman MP, referred to Section 7 of the Leadership Codes Act, which states that declarations should be made public. She believes that the decision to create a special portal for soldiers to declare their wealth under CMI supervision suggests a failure on the part of the Inspectorate to fulfill its constitutional duty.

Bagala further criticized the directive, suggesting that it aims to shield UPDF from civilian scrutiny regarding corruption. She emphasized that President Museveni cannot unilaterally amend an act of Parliament, expressing dismay that the IGG is implementing what she considers an illegal directive.

Bagala questioned the justification for national security concerns over the wealth of senior UPDF officers if it is obtained lawfully, and urged the IGG to refrain from implementing illegal directives.

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Abdallah Kiwanuka, MP for Mukono North, questioned why the army, which receives the largest portion of the national budget, should be exempted from public scrutiny of their wealth. According to the Leadership Code Act, all UPDF personnel at or above the rank of Major, as well as officers in charge of the payroll, are considered leaders and are obligated to declare their wealth and liabilities without special treatment.

Kiwanuka emphasized that there is no law in the country that authorizes the IGG to delegate her responsibilities to CMI. He warned that if the IGG takes such a risk, they will challenge her decision along with the commandant of CMI.

The Opposition MPs also expressed concern over the poor performance of the IGG in the fight against corruption. They highlighted a report indicating that only Shs7.99 billion was recovered between January 2022 and June 2023, despite Uganda losing Shs10 trillion annually to corruption.

They criticized the minimal recovery amount and called for the IGG to intensify investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of corrupt individuals. Bagala called for the imposition of punitive measures against corrupt public officials, stressing the need for accountability and punishment even in cases where corruption is settled out of court.

She urged the police to take an active interest in corruption cases settled outside of court, as she believed it amounted to an admission of corruption. Bagala clarified that while the amount of money recovered may be negotiated during out-of-court settlements, criminal liability should still be pursued under the Anti-Corruption Act and Penal Code Act.

Abed Bwanika, MP for Kimanya-Kabonero, stated that one of the lasting legacies of the NRM Government over the past 38 years is the culture of corruption in Uganda. He described corruption as endemic, noting that the annual loss of Shs10 trillion to corruption could fund the construction of approximately 3,000 kilometers of tarmac roads or 100 hospitals.

The Inspector of Government (IGG), Beti Kamya, recently announced the creation of a new portal for soldiers to declare their wealth through the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI). President Museveni had expressed concerns about openly declaring soldiers’ wealth through the IGG, citing national security reasons.

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