Starting from President Yoweri Museveni down to LC 3 chairpersons, 25,230 officials are required by law to declare their wealth by the end of the day tomorrow, the 31st March.
With just hours to the deadline for Uganda leaders to declare their wealth and liabilities, many of them are now in a haste to file their declarations to the Inspector General of Government.
I was at the IGG’s office earlier today; it was flooded with hundreds of people carrying brown containing declaration forms. Some of these are leaders themselves, others messengers on errand. At the time of my visit, there was only one honourable minister who had the time to deliver his declaration himself. The media relations officer Ali Munira attributes the panic to the leaders’ fear of being shamed should they fail to declare.
I should say, I was not surprised by these hundreds of people. It is my society’s culture to do things last minute. At least that is what I tell myself when I am battling working last minute.
According to the 2002 Leadership code act, specified leaders among who is the president of the country are obliged to declare their wealth every two years in the month of March. The media relations officer at the IGG’s office Ali Munira affirms that the president has already declared his wealth. In her words, he is always among the first people to hand in hi declaration forms. Okay do not imagine him in convoy from state house to parliament avenue to file a form. Some faithful state house servant has to deliver it.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and IGG Irene Mulyagonja were the first leaders to officially declare their wealth and liabilities on 3rd March
Over five hundred declarations were filed today alone. Munira confesses that she does not know how many of the specified 25230 leaders have already declared.
She is quick to add however that the inspectorate is overwhelmed with compliance compared to the previous years. She attributes this to the fear of many leaders to be humiliated in the media. In 2013, a list of all leaders who had not declared their wealth was published in the papers.
Charles Kituuka, an LC3 chairperson, Kasanje sub county applauds this culture of declaration. He says it prepares contending leaders better.
He however is not satisfied with the fact that the public does not get a chance to know who has declared what. “This could create even better accountability,” he says.
The matters was snatched out of the IGG’s hands when the inspectorate lost a case to Principal Accountant in the Public Service in the Ministry of Health at the time, Nestor Muchumbi.
For now, the law states that if an individual wants to know a particular leader’s wealth, the apply in writing. Even then, Munira says the procedures are not yet well defined. This hasnicaps us as members of the public.
I spoke to some people who have completely no faith in their leaders’ declarations. One of the men I interviewed on the streets of Kampala says his area MP has a construction company in south sudan which most people know nothing about. He disclosed that he knows people who own property but keep it in other people’s names, thus making accountability difficult for the evaluators.
Another man I spoke to says that it is good for our leaders to declare wealth so that one knows whom to run to for financial help.
Well, we know there are those that will not meet the deadline tomorrow. The law actually guarantees a one month grace period. However, whoever submits their declarations during this time has to do so with a well written explanation why. The inspectorate can then act accordingly. Because of this grace period, outcomes of the declarations will be published late April. All who declare, receive an acknowledgement slip for accountability.
Kituuka advises his colleagues who are not ready to comply with the law not to bother standing for leadership.