By Col Edith Nakalema
Corruption is a beast that has many arms, legs, eyes and ears. Having many Anti-Corruption Agencies is paramount in the fight against this beast. Citizen support and participation are also key in this fight.
It’s not all about arresting and remanding. Besides using harder ways to fight corruption, the Unit employs a number of soft power elements to curtail the advancement of the beast.
StateHouse Anti-Corruption Unit employs sensitization as a key strategy in the fight against corruption. Through Barraza style of engagement, the Unit has collected sufficient and appropriate evidence from the citizen’s testimonials.
As “Charity begins at home”, we need to sensitize our young generation and break the chain of corruption starting from our homes. Corruption is a thread. It starts in our homes, goes to schools, and graduates from Universities back to our societies. Therefore, we call upon every parent, cultural and religious leader to instil values in the young generation in their respective residences.
Everyone reported to StateHouse Anti-Corruption Unit has been investigated by the police attached to the Unit. The DPP, a key player, then sanctions file and arraigns the suspects before the courts of law. Some of these include the Central government Accounting officers ( permanent secretaries, CEOs, MDs and Commissioners ), Local Government Accounting Officers ( CAOs, Town Clerks) and other high-level persons in the private sector.
”There is neither a big fish nor small fish. They are all thieves. Every thief is as big as the other. It’s the small fish that steal and carry big sums of money to the big fish. In fact, one big fish comes with a sack of Mukene and groom them to become sharks.”
At the State House Anti-corruption Unit, ”Order from above” does not work. We have arraigned very many people to courts of law who guise and steal in the name of StateHouse.
Among the 331 people we arraigned before court, 40 are impersonators and 5 have been convicted. I have personally appealed to the public to report to us anyone using the name of the President and the prominence of StateHouse Anti-Corruption Unit to Extort from the people.
Some Cases Are Withdrawn To Protect The Public Interest-DPP
In investigations, we follow the criminal law, the trail of evidence. The small fish fall, culprit because they are often used by the big fish to steal for them. In this case who is the thief to arraign before the court?
The small Mukene used to sign, make requests to the bank and withdraw the money or the big fish not tracked anywhere in the evidence trail!
It’s always the Mukene we come face to face with during the investigations.
We are neither influenced by politics nor any external force to withdraw some cases. If no evidence, should we continue with the file for the sake of statistics? In most cases, we get the cases to court at 50% but if more details are not furnished to court to prove the guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, then the case is exonerated.
Since i took over office, i have not had any political interference in the cases i handle. The police do rigorous investigations under our guidance to get evidence. As the DPP, I am mandated not only to look at the law and evidence but to also put it in the public interest.
In some cases, there might be evidence and we have the law on our side, but how about the public interest? Unfortunately, Public interest is not under corruption cases but I applied it during the first lockdown to discharge over 500 inmates in Kitalya prison to curtail the spread of Covid. There was evidence against the inmates, but human interests had to be prioritized.
In absence of evidence, we sometimes pardon the accomplices in return to be witnesses, instead of losing a case, we forgive those with less participation and use them to testify against the big participants in the crime.
In summary, we work on the law, evidence and public interest though I have rarely applied the public interest principle on corruption cases.
Therefore I want to assure the public that we are not influenced by politics.
Corruption is multifacet and so it needs a multi-sectoral approach. The worry should not be on the many units tackling it, but on anti-graft Agencies, if not coordinated.