Former Opposition iron lady-turned ruling NRM Party diehard, Betty Olive Namisango Kamya Turomwe is the captain of the Uganda’s financial impropriety fight. Oddly, the Anti-graft guru herself is currently entangled in her own sleaze of shame worth a massive UGX10.6bn. Here is what transpired. Kamya, whilst serving as the lands minister before her appointment as the country’s Inspectorate of Government boss, raised a budget in the foregoing amounts.
Thereafter, she majestically walked into the national assembly, presented her budget and got the legislators to approve the item. Kamya had convinced the lawmakers how she was going to use the funds to sort out Bunyoro people, whose land had been taken to construct oil roads. The parliament’s Cosase committee led by Nakawa West MP Joel Ssenyonyi, seeking to establish the truth regarding the charge which Kamya had made on the national treasury, took a decision to carry out a public hearing.
At the hearing, it so transpired that much of the budgeted funds didn’t make it to Bunyoro. On the contrary, what Kamya had disguised as compensation funds, had upon release from the bleeding national coffers, been actually shared out amongst the thieves just here in Kampala.
An old woman called Natalie Namuli, who Kamya had listed as one of the beneficiaries, was of so much help to Ssenyonyi`s team. She shamed the anti-financial impropriety Queen when she told the lawmakers how she had never ever, at any one time in her life, received a penny out of the UGX2.2Bn Kamya had put to her name. Yet Kamya had written to the Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija on November 30, 2020 to ask him to expedite Namuli’s compensation.
This pressure onto Kasaija since, Kamya had claimed, the innocent elder was too ill and required the money to treat herself. Kasaija himself would sink the graft fighter into deep waters. The finance guru straightforwardly told Ssenyonyi committee that he was conned into releasing the public funds. Uganda land commission’s powerful secretary, Betty Nyakaishiki Byenkya told the committee that Kamya breached the law when she raised the contested budget without her knowledge, consent and or approval. In essence, Byenkya was the one and only person empowered under the law to raise such item as raised by Kamya.
For this act of truth-telling, the sleaze fighter has since exploited her current office to cause the arrest, suspension and prosecution of Byenkya on charges related to blocking her from searching her office, for documents purportedly related to bribery. Just that the courts of law only recently overruled Kamya and ordered the reinstatement of Byenkya to her office, pending the hearing of her complaint and its disposal.
Plays Museveni blackmail card
Kamya testified once before Cosase. She has been tellingly defying the summons to go back and respond to witnesses who have turned up and implicated her personally. Instead, the IGG recently issued out tweets where she was not only insinuating her own saga to be also the saga of the Cabinet Chairman chairman, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, but for also the rest of Cabinet members combined. Apparently using the dictum of collective responsibility as applied in decision making within the executive arm of government, Kamya argues that since Cabinet cleared the charge to be taken against the national coffers, she can’t take blame for what might have gone bad with the funds finally released by the government.
Supposing Madam IGG had gone abroad for vacation, and hence missed what former Vice President Dr Gilbert Baalibaseka Bukenya aka Mahogany did. Mahogany, in his defense against CHOGM funds which had gotten missing under his watch, and which defense is on all fours with that of the IGG in respect of the instant compensation funds, stated what we now volunteer to repeat for the IGG`s benefit and enlightenment. Bukenya stated that since he was doing the work on behalf of the President, and, as such, spending the cash on the President’s implied express instructions, then, the President knew and or ought to have known and was as well responsible, for whatever was going on.
Having thus played the Kaguta card, Mahogany reached for the nearest bar and sponsored a blast for himself, plus the party queens of the time. The old medic danced and danced. He galloped and galloped brew. He swapped and swapped the spittle with the girls. After all, Kaguta’s funny copycat was confident that all was now well with the CHOGM saga. Kaguta didn’t like a jot what Bukenya was talking about. Bukenya, in matter of fact, was inferring that his own wrongs, if at all, were wrongs of the President too.
Consequently, other than saving him, what Bukenya was saying irked the President who resolved to have the funny man carry his own cross in order to deter others of his ilk from turning their own mistakes into his own mistakes. Granted, the President or any other people Bukenya chose to lump up together and labelled Mafias, could have possibly picked and chewed the cash for which he was crucified. But neither did those so-called mafias personally requisition for the missing funds nor sign for the same.
Their only job was to pick the cash from the generous Bukenya, went ahead and spent the same the way they would choose. Coming to accountability issues, it was incumbent upon Bukenya to perform that duty. We shall explain. This is because, it was Bukenya who would requisition for the cash. He would upon receipt of the funds, go ahead and gift it to whoever would ask for the same. Who was in the circumstances of these saga, dear folks, other than Bukenya himself, supposed to render accountability for the funds that went missing?
Certainly not the President nor the Mafias. Those who took the funds had done a good job when it came to covering their tracks. They left no evidence at all in their wake. Yet, Betty Kamya spent good years in the opposition. She hence ought to have learned and not forgotten what happened to the likes of Geoffrey Kazinda, Capt. Mike Mukula, plus Teddy Seezi Cheeye.
The IGG argues that since Parliament looked at, and examined the funds and finally approved the same to be appropriate, then the lawmakers are impliedly guilty, if at all the same was inappropriate, for clearing the budget which they are now wholly blaming her for. Treat such foregoing submission by the good IGG as flowerily submission if you want. Regard the same to be creative reasoning if you choose. And even describe it as a persuasive piece of argument if such fits your bill. But Parliament, as a public watchdog isn’t expected to lamely fold hands whilst public officers are failing to account for public funds duly applied for by them and indeed finally issued out to them.
Betty Kamya’s third leg of defense blames the technocrats involved in the process of clearing the funds and those who finally issued the same out. Oh! Kamya is a typical African politician who would commit a wrong and blame the same on the technocrats. By such reasoning, the people being sacrificed by Kamya include first and foremost, the Secretary of the Uganda Land Commission, Betty Nyakaishiki Byenkya. The other one is possibly the PS Finance who was then, Keith Muhakanizi, and the Chief Government Accountant.
Byenkya told Cosase how Kamya raised the budget behind her back. Kamya argues that even if she did, it was Byenkya who was bound to account for the usage of the funds! For the PS and Chief Government Accountant, we would honestly think theirs was to find the funds and issue them out after being asked to. In any case, the public money wasn’t issued out to be diverted by those who presented the budget to the Parliament or anybody else.
As we wind up, we can only advise Betty Kamya to tread very, very cautiously lest she annoys the Powers-that-Be and ends up being punished like Mahogany, Capt. Mike Mukula and Teddy Seezi Cheeye. That she was in the past condemning the President and his government just as Cheeye was, before crossing over to the government, Betty Kamya must act and speak very carefully lest she risks ending up suffering a date similar to one suffered by Cheeye.
- Mr. Stephen Kasozi Muwambi is a seasoned crime investigative writer, majoring in judicial-based stories. His two decades’ experience as a senior investigative journalist has made him one of the best to reckon on in Uganda. He can also be reached via muwambis[email protected]
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