State Of The Nation: President Says Economy Growing Amidst Pockets Of Corruption

President Yoweri Museveni used his State of the Nation Address for the year ending 30th June 2024 to reveal to Ugandans how his Government is closing on to the corrupt officials both in the civil service and political space.

While delivering his State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Kololo Independence Grounds on 6th June, Museveni informed Ugandans that has received an intelligence briefing to confirm that there is a corruption racket involving officials in the Ministry of Finance and in the Parliament of Uganda.

Talk about corruption with a lot of allegations pointing at top government officials have dominated the social media and to some extent mainstream media spaces in recent times. With the Inspectorate of Government revealed over a year that the country loses up to UGX 10 trillion to thieves every year, the spotlight has been on Parliament where allegations of cash bonanza involving staff in the Speaker’s office and Parliamentary Commission have evolved.

President Museveni who re-echoed his threats against the corrupt, told the nation that “ababi bafude” literally means that the thieves are going to die. He insisted that his government is going to “crash” those who plunder national resources.

“I have been getting good information about corrupt actors among the public servants but also among the political actors. With firm evidence, I will crush these traitors. Public servants and political leaders that steal Government money are corrupt and will be crushed,” said Museveni

The President added the corruption tendencies between officials from the Ministry of Finance and some actors within Parliament also involves Accounting Officers of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) at the time requests for money are made. He did not substantiate whether this is done during the normal budgeting process or during times of supplementary budgets which are always approved with ease despite minority reports to the Budget Committee recommendations.

While pointing fingers at Parliament as a center of corruption, Museveni also informed Ugandans that some of his trusted workers in the President’s Office and State House have also licked the fingers of the corrupt.

“I have been hearing that people even in my office take bribes from people to bring people to see me. Can you imagine but fortunately recently, we arrested one of them. He is alleged to have extorted shares and money from an investor who was coming from somewhere, and is now in court. I have been hearing stories that there is a racket from the Ministry of Finance to Parliament but now I have proof. I have been hearing that from the Ministry of Finance they arrange with Accounting Officers of Ministries to come to Parliament working with some people there to provide some funds provided that you take a share,” the President added.

Corruption has three faces

Museveni described corruption in Uganda as being perpetrated by three kinds of people namely; the dishonest, the traitors and the mistake makers. In his view, the traitors and dishonest people have been more corrupt because they take bribes from foreigners to promote their interests in the country.

In what looked like stinging opposition leader, Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine who has taken responsibility for pushing for sanctions against Speaker Anita Among and former Ministers Mary Goret Kitutu and Agnes Nandutu over corruption related matters, the President attributed dishonesty to careerist politics that has taken root in the country.

“There are, however, other actors that get bribes from foreigners to work for foreign interests. These are both corrupt and traitors and we are monitoring their activities. If they do not stop; and with evidence, we shall deal with them. As part of fighting corruption, it is crucial to save the amateurish political actors who come into politics without knowing that leading people does not mean carrying them on your head. It means that you show them the way,” the President noted.

The United Kingdom’s Government last month issued sanctions against Speaker Anita Among and the two former Ministers citing their involvement in stealing iron sheets meant for the underprivileged people in Karamoja. There has been back and forth between the Government of Uganda and Westminster over whether indeed, Speaker, Among owns a house in London.

On sanctions

The President who has been known for his stance on adoring the western powers by Africans insisted that Uganda cannot be threatened by anyone. Museveni, a campaigner for pan-Africanism said Uganda is ready to repel any threats by foreign actors.  

“These foreigners don’t know Uganda, they don’t know us. They don’t know how strong we are, we are patient and we don’t over spend our energy. Those who threaten us, you are wasting your time. Don’t come with threats. Uganda is a land of martyrs but also heroes because the martyrs don’t shoot back. On the 3rd [June] we celebrated martyrs day and on the 9th [June] you come we are celebrating heroes,” charged Museveni.

On the economy

While the President did not dwell much on the economic progress of the country by addressing achievements sector by sector, he praised the NRM Government for its visionary agenda since its start as a students’ movement in the 1960s.

Giving a historical accountability on what he and his colleagues stood for, Museveni revealed that dealing with issues of prosperity and strategic security has fed into the four core principles of the NRM. These principles are Pan-Africanism, Democracy, Socio-Economic Transformation and Patriotism.

Describing these as part of a good ideology of his leadership, Museveni told Ugandans that the economy has grown well since 1986 save for the setbacks caused by the global pandemic of Covid-19. He said the different phases of economic growth have been significantly seen in; the minimum economic recovery phase of restoring aspects of the small, colonial enclave money economy of cotton, coffee, copper, tea, tobacco and tourism; expanding that enclave with the more production of coffee, tea; the diversification of the enclave economy by commercializing the production of bananas, cassava, milk, fruits, palm oil, cocoa, fish, beef; adding value to some of these raw–materials; and, the knowledge economy, through the production of vaccines plus the auto-mobile industry.

“These measures have enabled the economy to grow from $1.5 billion in 1986 to now $55 billion by the forex exchange method and $ 180.29 billion by the PPP (Public Private Partnership) method. With $ 1,182 per capita, Uganda has entered the lower middle income status,” he clarified.

While most of the opposition legislators kept away from the address, Museveni called on the East African Community (EAC) partner States to work towards removing the existing trade barriers so that the whole region is able to negotiate with a single market for the products needed on the international market.

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