Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Africa: Are Rip-offs Paying Off?

News from Uganda that two ministers resigned after allegedly misappropriating a cool $ 60,000,000 was shocking. When this sacrilegious theft by the high and mighty was reported, Ugandans as well as other Africans received it just as a normal thing especially for a begging country like Uganda!

The two were Gender Minister, Syda Bbumba who then served as finance minister and Prof. Khiddu Makubuya, a minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, who was attorney general when money was paid as compensation to one Bassajjabalaba by inflating amount of money at the tune of excess $60,000,000. This is according to the Parliamentary Accounts Committee which launched an investigation and unraveled such rip-off.

Those conversant with how Africa is ruined and plundered by her own were not shocked. In neighboring Tanzania in 2005, close to presidential and parliamentary elections, over $ 130,000,000 was stolen from the Bank of Tanzania. The trails directed to the then president Benjamin Mkapa and the then presidential candidate Jakaya Kikwete, the current president. Since then, this country has not jailed any culprit in this connection.

Remember the mother of all theft in East Africa, the ‘Goldenberg’ scandal in 1990 that saw Kenya lose over $ 600,000,000 ? Responsible con-people have never been convicted since then. The Goldenberg scam was estimated to have cost Kenya the equivalent of more than 10% of its annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Many would argue: Where was government? In the two cases of Kenya and Tanzania, such huge amounts of money were stolen directly from the Central Banks of the said countries. The governments were there in the same business of plundering the hoi polloi.

Going back to Uganda, when the two ministers decided to resign, the general public saw it as a victory due to the fact that sacred cows in Africa are nary slaughtered. So for countries where accountability is a foreign vocabulary, people felt like wining against the venal officials without knowing that resigning after causing such a huge hole on the economy is nothing comparably if the law would be utilized reasonably.

When a person robs the public and the punishment meted out on him is resignation, this means many will steal so as to retire rich guys. With such megalomaniacs in power, can we really develop our countries? What agonises is the fact that donor countries are always shouting at the top of their voices that accountability, good governance and democracy are key to a country being aided.

Is it because much of the money stolen is ending up being stashed in western banks or it involves their nationals? It is because this business- plundering Africa- has always benefitted them due to the fact that many fat thieves end up investing there as it happened for Mobutu Sese-seko and other big thieves? In Africa, stealing public monies is not a crime apparently. Challenging or opposing a president is. Africa is in financial anarchy whereby a connected cabal of thieves can rob the public without being made to face the music.

If you want to die earlier in Africa, try to steal small money or chicken. You will be butchered in the daylight even in front of police officer. But when you steal big sums, no son of gun will touch you. Instead, you’ll become mightier so as to dine with the president. For money is always power. Those who remember, Kamlesh Pattni, the architect of Goldenberg, know what I mean. One thing is obvious. Every humungous theft in East Africa used to involve two people -government official and Asian businessmen. Why? Simple, it takes two to tango. However, Uganda’s case is an exception to the general rule. For the receiver was a Ugandan. May be this is revolution in stealing public money. Before this revolutionary theft, who’d trust the guy, who after being cornered, would spill the beans by revealing who is behind this theft by the high and mighty whereas Indian business men can pack and jump onto the plane and vanish to Canada India and UK?

Africa must fight by all means to stop such $ 60,000,000 resignation as the only punishment for such an offence. When one muses on this theft, let us quote one of the reports that implicated these two ministers as quoted by The Daily Monitor, “November 13, 2010. President Museveni writes to Makubuya, Central Bank Governor Tumusiime Mutebile and Ms Bbumba instructing them to oversee a speedy compensation for Haba Group’s claims.” By the way, who’s who in this theft?

Source: The African Executive Magazine Feb.22, 2012.

3 comments:

Jaribu said...

Wote hao ni wezi. Badala ya kuitwa waheshimiwa, waanze kuitwa Mhutumiwa Jakaya, Mhutumiwa Mkapa, Mhutumiwa Museveni....

Jaribu said...

Ooops Mpayukaji, that was very bad Kiswahili, it should be Mtuhumiwa.

NN Mhango said...

No problem bro. Ujumbe umefika na naona hakuna mwenye kukwazwa nao.
Kila la heri,