24 January 2013

Uganda: Mukula Prosecution Was Selective - UPC

The Uganda People's Congress (UPC) party has expressed concern over what it calls selective prosecutions in Uganda, saying the practice of punishing some individuals at the expense of others is damaging the image of the judiciary and the general delivery of justice.

Joseph Bossa, UPC's vice president, decried that today it has become a common thing for individuals involved in the same acts of corruption to be treated selectively.

"Some are not touched at all. Others are summoned but merely warned. But others are left to pay the hefty fines. This is not fair. We would love to see fair judgments."

Bossa was referring to the Mike Mukula case during the party's weekly press briefing at Uganda House in Kampala on Wednesday.

The Soroti Municipality MP and former state minister for health was sentenced to four years in prison last week after the Anticorruption Court found him guilty of embezzling sh210m from the Global Alliance Vaccination for Immunization (GAVI) funds. Sh1.6b was lost in the GAVI scam.

Bossa said the country wanted to see 'blind justice' prevail where people involved in similar crimes get similar punishments.

In the Mukula case, he said, UPC sees the prosecution, conviction and imprisonment of the former state minister as a "cynical application to the legal process and system".

He said the real purpose was to show the world especially the organizations responsible for the GAVI funds that Uganda was serious about fighting corruption, but that "It is not'.

The other reason, he said, was to punish Mukula for his 'sins' against the regime by humiliating him through imprisonment.

He alleged that Mukula was challenging the 'powers of this nation'; that he wanted to contest for the NRM party presidency and that that was the reason the regime has 'zeroed down on him'.

Bossa also expressed concern over the high dropout numbers in primary schools and the disparity in performance between children of the rich and the poor from the recently released primary leaving examinations.

He was also worried that year after year children from rural areas continue to perform poorly at the expense of children from urban areas, saying that "the country's development depended on the quality of education and the quantity of its educated citizens.

The education ministry needs to set up a system to change this.'

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