KAMPALA, UGANDA: President Museveni has cautioned the Inspector General of Government (IGG), Ms Beti Kamya, to go slow on the planned lifestyle audit, a new anti-corruption tool that seeks to catch corrupt government officials and their agents.
Museveni was responding to the IGG’s presentation on her proposed lifestyle audit approach of fighting corruption during the commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day at Kololo Independence Grounds on Thusrday.
This year’s International Anti-Corruption Day was commemorated under the theme: “Promoting active citizen participation in social accountability”.
Although the President endorsed Ms Kamya’s anti-corruption strategy, he warned that her planned lifestyle audit might force the corrupt people to hide stolen funds abroad. This, he said, will complicate the war against corruption.
“The lifestyle audit is good but be careful because we are still lucky that our corrupt people are corrupt here. But if they realise that their lifestyle is being audited, they will instead take what they stole abroad and it will be hard to track them,” Mr Museveni said.
The President, who has put the anti-corruption fight at the heart of his 6th elective term agenda, however, implored the Ombudsman to investigate where the corrupt government officials are stealing from and carry out audits on government projects to ascertain whether money has been spent appropriately.
“The IGG just like the Minister of Economic Monitoring can ascertain the cost of constructing per km of a road and also check the quality,” he said.
The President also advised Ms Kamya and her team to also use performance audit to monitor public resources.
Lifestyle audits, also known as lifestyle checks or lifestyle monitoring, are an accountability tool that can be used to detect and prevent corruption.
Ms Kamya had earlier told the President that one of the challenges the inspectorate faces in fighting graft is that most corruption deals are always under the table and very difficult to prove in court.
“So many suspects don’t only get acquitted but many times with costs to government yet the public is asking us to catch some big fish. Truth is big fish are very slippery, they don’t sign anywhere and receive their loot through proxies,” Ms Kamya said.
According to the IGG, the onus will then be on the suspect to prove before court that the wealth he or she acquired while in public office is commensurate with known income.
She also told the President that her strategy is to recruit the ordinary Ugandan into the war against corruption through civic education and mindset change.
“In order to gain public trust and confidence, the public wants to see some big heads roll. With your support, Your Excellency, I assure you that on my desk are investigations which will lead to heads rolling,” she said.
In 2019, former IGG Justice Irene Mulyagonja said most corrupt officials ‘hide behind’ the back of President Museveni and use their connection to State to defeat or escape justice.
Justice Mulyagonja said the corrupt are powerful and whenever she attempted to pursue them, they fought back and they often won the fight.
Her remarks followed those by the President during the State-of-the-Nation Address where he questioned the effectiveness of the IGG and her officers in fighting corruption.
He announced an alternative unit under his office which he said would fight corruption. The unit is currently headed by Col Edith Nakalema.
Chapter 13 of the Constitution mandates the IGG to eliminate corruption, abuse of authority and of public office, with authority to investigate or cause investigation, arrest or cause arrest, prosecute or cause prosecution, make orders and give directions during investigations. IGG statistics shows that the inspectorate has at least 5,000 active cases of corruption reported by whistleblowers valued at Shs500b.