19 February 2013

Uganda: Corruption - Museveni Backs Bill to Grab Assets

President Museveni has backed a draft bill drawn up by Makindye East MP John Ssimbwa, which would ultimately empower government to attach properties of officials convicted of corruption.

The presidential nod of approval comes after Museveni told an NRM Parliamentary caucus meeting at State House Entebbe last week that the NRM-led fight against corruption was failing, despite the establishment of various anti-graft institutions.

The Observer has learnt that during the caucus meeting, Museveni instructed the Attorney General, Inspectorate of Government, Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lukodo and the Director of Public Prosecutions to support Ssimbwa's bill.

"An inter-ministerial committee has been named by the president to make sure that the private member's bill is supported as a way of making sure that the law is strong enough to act as a deterrent against graft," Fred Ruhindi, the deputy Attorney General, said by telephone today.

Ssimbwa and his co-sponsor, Ntenjeru South MP Patrick Nsanja, have been struggling to get the bill onto the floor of Parliament since last year. They only recently secured a certificate of financial implication, improving their chances of presenting their bill to the house this year.

The bill seeks, among other things, to provide for the confiscation of property owned by convicted public officials, automatic interdiction of civil servants implicated in corruption as well as immediate sacking of political officials implicated in corruption. Following the president's instructions, The Observer has learnt that two meetings have been held to fine-tune the bill.

"We have so far considered 18 clauses of the bill and we appreciate that government's input on the bill has been positive so far," Nsanja said.

"At first we were sceptical that they want to stifle our bill but that has not been the case. Actually, their input has been positive," he said.

According to sources who have attended the meetings, one proposal is to have convicted corrupt officials sentenced to life imprisonment.

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