An anthropologist's take on Uganda and the Great Lakes region...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

CHOGM, and on, and on...

More than two and a half years after the event was held in Kampala, talk of 'CHOGM' continues to stir the passions in Uganda. On Tuesday, Public Accounts Committee chairman Nandala Mafabi was due to table the findings from his seven-month enquiry into the alleged misuse of public funds from the meeting. However, the Speaker of the House decided to block the presentation, citing unnamed procedural irregularities as his reason for doing so. Much acrimony ensued.

The truth is that no one within the upper-echelons of the NRM wants the report to see the light of day. Mafabi's enquiry was begun in mid-2009, at the end of a year in which the ruling party were rocked by a series of major corruption scandals:
  • In March 2008, one of Museveni's former closest allies, former Ugandan army (UPDF) commander James Kazini, was convicted by a Court Martial for the misappropriation of funds related to 'ghost soldiers'.
  • In August 2008, another of the President's key men, Security Minister and Secretary-General of the NRM Amama Mbabazi, was involved in a land deal in which 411 hectares of public land was sold to one of his private companies at a vastly undervalued rate.
  • In September 2008, former Health Minister Jim Muhwezi was accused of taking part in the embezzlement of UgSh 1.6 billion from a major donor fund. Criminal proceedings for this case are still pending.
Already damaged by these scandals, the last thing Museveni's government needed was a series of further allegations, that up to UgSh 500 billion had been embezzled from the CHOGM funds. Moreover, as these allegations developed, into 2009, it was further suggested that Museveni himself may have sanctioned some of the moody deals involved. Certainly, the President himself was the star witness at Mafabi's probe.

No, no one within the NRM wants any more talk of CHOGM. But the meeting is far from over yet.

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