Leaders don’t want to declare wealth, it’s so frustrating — IGG

Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa last year found himself in a hot soup over bribery allegations that he claimed was a gift donation, but IGG said he had not declared the gift as per leadership code of conduct.

ACCOUNTABILITY | The Inspector General of Government (IGG), Justice Irene Mulyagonja, has expressed frustration with the number of public servants refusing to declare their assets.

Mulyagonja said ignoring this leadership code of conduct aspect is hampering the public from making an input to provide information regarding the details submitted by the public servants.

Addressing journalists during the launch of the declaration period that ends on March 31at the Ministry of ICT, Mulyagonja said that there have been a number of complaints raised from the public over failure by Inspectorate to involve tax payers in these declarations.

Sendo Cleaners

“We have been receiving complaints about leaders’ declarations. This time around in our verification process, we shall put up a list of leaders to be verified and ask the public to tell us what they know about these assets of these people,” she said.

According to Section 10 of the Leadership Code Act 2002, a leader may accept a personal gift or donation from a relative or personal friend to such an extent and on such occasion as is recognised by custom.

“Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, a leader may accept a gift if the gift is in the nature of a souvenir or ornament and does not exceed five currency points in value,” the leadership code says.

“Where a leader receives any gifts or other benefits of a value of ten currency points or above from
anyone source in a twelve consecutive months period, the leader shall disclose that gift, or benefit to the Inspector-General.”

A currency point, under the law, is equivalent to Shs20,000.

Last year, Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa came under scrutiny for receiving $500,000 (about Shs2 billion) from a Chinese national as gift. Patrick Ho Chi-ping was convicted by New York jury of offering millions of dollars in bribes to African leaders, including Minister Kutesa.

It later emerged that Kutesa did not declare the “gift donation” he had received from Ho as per leadership code.

The IGG also called on the government to expedite the registration of all marriages and children, saying the move if implemented will ease the tracking of the officials who hide their property in the names of their spouses and children.

The Inspectorate also revealed that in 2018, the declaration stood at 90% and used the platform to warn leaders who haven’t declared their form as required in the laws that the Directorate will not have an extension of the declaration period set this year.

She, however, decried the absence of the Tribunal that is meant to hear cases of public servants that fail to abide by the requirement, that would see errant officials sent to the tribunal for prosecution.

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