The Karuma Dam is one of those projects that have exposed and proved that corruption has indeed become deeply institutionalized in Uganda. In 1995, the government announced plans to construct the dam, however seventeen years down the road and the project is still marred in corruption related scandals.
This has eventually forced the president to intervene and threaten to halt the process if the Ministry of Energy fails to find a competent firm. The president faults the ministry's evaluators for failing to notice anomalies in the documents of the pre-qualified bidders.
It is also alleged that earlier on a minority report had been written challenging the majority decision of the evaluation committee's prequalification of certain firms. It is obvious the minority report was ignored.
Further still, a whistleblower had already furnished information to the Ministry over the anomalies in the process, however the said information was ignored too.
What seems to be interesting is the fact that the president's instructions to the ministry officials were also ignored. One gets the impression that the bureaucrats are now above the law since they can defy the head of state and easily get away with it.
In 2011 a report by the Inspectorate of Government and Economic Research Policy Research Center- MUK on data tracking mechanism on corruption, found that Uganda had very good legal framework scores standing at 99% but with a dismal implementation performance standing at 45%, giving an implementation gap of 54%. (Global Integrity Report, 2009)
The above actions by the Ministry officials portray the levels of impunity in our country where officials deliberately and arrogantly flout set policies and procedures, and get away with it. This clearly shows that issues relating to accountability are not about the number of laws that are enacted, but political commitment to respect and abide by those laws however few they may be.
The quote " The more corrupt the state, the more laws.-Publius Cornelius Tacitus" often comes to pass in the Ugandan context.
In an ideal Country, the solution would have been a total overhaul of the Ministry of Energy. I believe that one day, Uganda will be that type of country.
Cissy Kagaba is the Executive Director Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU).