Cape Town – Uganda President Yoweri Museveni has been named as one of those responsible for what it calls widespread “bribery, nepotism, and misuse of official positions and resources” in the country.
The report, published in Kampala on Monday, says that since Museveni came to power in 1986, “waves of scandals” have hit his administration.
“Members of his inner circle—from both military and cabinet—have been accused of theft and improper procurement of state resources by the media, civil society, the auditor general, and parliament,” the report says.
But despite “many plans and relentless promises… corruption in Uganda remains pervasive at both low and high levels of public administration… Only one minister has ever been convicted of a corruption-related offense, a verdict that was overturned on appeal just after the president publicly offered to pay the defendant’s legal costs.”
The report is based on research by the New York-based advocacy group, Human Rights Watch, and the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic of Yale University earlier this year.
It notes that media attention often concentrates on the “big fish who got away” but that the solutions proposed rely on “technical responses.”
“Those responses overlook what, based on past actions, can be described as the government’s deep-rooted lack of political will to address corruption at the highest levels and importantly, to set an example- starting from the top – that graft will not be tolerated,” the report goes on to say.
Among issues highlighted by the report:
The president and Parliament “have failed to empower key institutions, either by failing to fill key vacancies or by failing to establish institutions…”
High-ranking officials whose offices have been implicated in corruption often remain in their positions while individuals under them have faced prosecution and, in some cases, jail.
Lack of protection for witnesses and prosecutors has resulted in a focus on “low-level corruption involving small sums of money, while the ‘big fish’ have continued to accumulate wealth and power.”
The report adds: “In some Anti-Corruption Court cases involving well-connected individuals, senior officials have directed prosecutors to delay prosecution or prematurely try a case with incomplete or weak evidence.
“Investigators, prosecutors, and witnesses involved in such cases have been the targets of threats and requests for bribes.In some Anti-Corruption Court cases involving well-connected individuals, senior officials have directed prosecutors to delay prosecution or prematurely try a case with incomplete or weak evidence. Investigators, prosecutors, and witnesses involved in such cases have been the targets of threats and requests for bribes.”
In a press release accompanying the report, Human Rights Watch said it was based on interviews with 48 people “with substantive knowledge of anti-corruption efforts in Uganda” and on reports from local activists, foreign development partners and the World Bank.