Special Reports

The Inside Story: Gen Saleh’s ‘Amnesty’ For Gov’t Thieves

what is ed http://cmlsociety.org/wp-content/plugins/events-manager/widgets/em-calendar.php geneva;”>The General stresses that coming clean would be the only legalistic and best approach to bring the errant Public Servants to book. He calls upon the swindlers to come forward and comprehensively declare their assets.

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nurse geneva;”>He further supports his move by urging the Government not to penalize repentant officials who come out seeking forgiveness.

He suggests that if Government is to commence an arbitrary nation-wide move to punish all of the officers involved in the Public service pension scandal, the process would take years to accomplish.

“Subsequent investigation, prosecution and punitive activities undertaken by the Government to redress their crimes demand the usage of more much-needed resources,’’ writes Saleh.


He qualifies his suggested solution to the African Traditional Society way of dealing with misdeeds through a congenial manner which reflects society’s disapproval of the reproachful misdeeds.

The public service has been overwhelmed with evidence of illicit, secretive and colossal accumulation of wealth by public servants.

In the ongoing investigations of interdicted officials in the Pension’s arm of the Ministry of Public Service, the criminal Investigations Directorate has found these individuals to have acquired prime city properties, set up large construction conglomerates and bought enormous swathes of land among other possessions.

According to Saleh, the glaring disparity between public service levels of income and the time which public servants acquire possessions nowadays creates grounds for suspicion of impropriety.

Sadly the evidence confirms this suspicion and theft by public servants has reached epidemic levels.

“We may note that there are various means of deception by which public servants have endeavored to hide their ill gotten wealth. Some of them have properties registered under different names other than their own; “off-shored “their loot and so on and so forth,” says Saleh.

“It is not only the blow inflicted on the quality of public service delivery Ugandans receive that the nation has suffered because of this swindling; corruption among national budget .The question remains :given all the legal instruments available ,to the Government ,for the punishments of this want to theft by Public Servants ,when is action going to be taken?” he wonders.

Below is an excerpt from Saleh’s book.

Practical Consideration

The spirit and the letter of the legislation against corruption bear both preventive and corrective undertones. It is for this reason that corrupt public servants do their best to hide the foot print of their illicit activities. Subsequent investigation, prosecution and punitive activities undertaken by the government to redress their crimes demand the usage of more much needed resources.

The need for the government to punish theft of resources and the challenge of limited resources following donor cuts, this year, calls for a pragmatic, sober and practical consideration of what to be done to bring “sanity” back in the public Service speedily.

The Government is willing to bring errant public service to book in the public service speedily.

The Government is willing to bring errant Public Servants to book but where are the resources to pursue every thief in every ministry, department and directorate in every district, county and village going to come from?

If the government were to commence an arbitrary Nation –wide move to punish all these officials, the process would take years to accomplish.

Is there a way out?

Our own traditions teach us that we do not always have to pursue an ‘’eye-for-an-eye’’ to restore the ‘’right workings’’ of society when dealing with those who have offended us. Several avenues are available to deal with misdeeds in a congenial manner which adequately reflects society’s disapproval of the reproachful misdeeds and brings their practice to a definitive close. In Uganda, each tribe have their own.

The Acholi have Matoput which they used to receive back Lord’s Resistance Army fighters; he Baganda among many have okwambulura, okunazza, et cetera. In post-apartheid South Africa the Truth and Reconciliation Commission served this purpose fittingly.

This is not done to legitimize evil but to set a healthy and non-vengeful way of redressing misdeeds yet preserving the overall integrity of a community. The Government, before commencing a dear massive pursuit of public service thieves, is going to engage a believable, age-old, African solution.

A traditional remedy to corruption in the Public Service

The challenges in pursuing a ‘’hand-line’’, legalistic approach to bringing errant public servants to book have inspired fresh perspectives and motivated a Nation-wide ‘’Amnesty’’ for all Public servants who may come forward and comprehensively declare the possessions they have acquired. This is a call for these Public Servants to ‘’come clean.’’

The Government is not going to carry out any prosecution against those who heed this call and any individual who comes forward will not be axed from their job. However, where no tax obligations have been honored, every person who so declares possessions acquired illegally shall be required to value their properties and companies and pay any tax obligations due to the people of Uganda. The taxes shall be paid within a grace period of five to ten years.

We believe that this measure shall meet or even exceed investigating and, or, prosecuting these people through the courts. In addition, much needed revenue will come to state coffers with the added benefit of Public Servants living without fear of recrimination or being victimized by reason of their possessions. Most importantly, a precedent is being set for future generations that wrong things can be made right and illegal acquisition of wealth is an unacceptable practice in society.

Any individual who does not heed this call may expect the harshest and most punitive measures to be exercised to their advantage during any ensuring investigation and prosecution among shall be immediate dismissal from their jobs. Suggestions of confiscating or selling the properties of implicated persons maybe conclusively at that point after this more cost-effective and pragmatic approach has been offered.

Anyone who doesn’t heed this call will expect a whistle blower to benefit from the sale of their possessions.

Implementation Modalities

The Inspector General of Government (IGG) and the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) are going to be at the heart of this undertaking. Declaration forms from the IGG shall be distributed among all Public Servants entities. These forms shall be more detailed and comprehensive than the ones used by the IGG currently.

Public Servants shall fill in these forms between January and June of 2013 while setting their books of accounts in order. In July 2013, the process of receiving forms shall be closed and anyone who will not have handed in their form at that point will be deemed to have ignored this Amnesty call.

Individuals who have voluntarily declared their improperly-acquired wealth to officials of the IGG shall, thereafter, appear before a commission constituted to oversee this process and openly declare how they acquired this wealth after which they will sign an Amnesty form.

The URA shall undertake the valuation of the declared wealth for purposes of tax assessment and the receivers of this Amnesty shall be required to pay within the period specified earlier.

By offering a conciliatory but definitive route for Public Servants, we are opening up space for new beginnings and bringing to finality so many activities that have been done ‘’in the dark’’.

We believe every Public Servant will act in both their personal and our National best interests.

The key value proposition is to provide a system or solution which will significantly reduce the various types of fraud and corruption. The solution is dependent on the following principles

Every One involved in the approval of a project or procurement should be known and identified beyond reasonable doubt (biometric identification and a card)

Every company or individual receiving payment from government should be known beyond reasonable doubt (designated person biometric data). This includes, Pensioners, Government Employees and commercial institutions

Every transaction generating a payment should be approved by the ‘’accountable persons’’ in the government institution.

Every payment can only be received by the designated AND known person.

The solution would therefore have to be deployed in the following manner

Every Government employee will be issued a smart card with their fingerprint

Every supplier to GoU will have a designated person issued with a smart card with their fingerprint who will confirm receipt of funds at their designated banking institution.

In each institution, a minimum=m of two cards swipe will be required to ‘’approve payment’’ from that ministry account for all payment. At least the Permanent Secretary (or acting in case of absence) AND Under Secretary or Finance.

Each institution will have the payments approval system deployed in their environment which will capture the following

All approved procurements and their budgets

Confirmation of each procurement by the procurement committee members

Confirmation of availability of funds

Confirmation of payment

Central bank will have visibility of proper approvals before issuing payment

Each government employee receiving funds for whatever purpose will simply swipe the card to confirm receipt of funds (e.g fuel allowance, travel allowance, field allowance)

In the case of pension, each pensioner will have a pension smart card and number which will enable them receive pension payment. The pension payment will only be retrievable or active after they confirm their identity at the point of receipt.

The payment system will be linked to the commonly accepted payment and cash receipt channels. ATM machines, Mobile Money and Electronic Funds Transfer. In all instances, confirmation of ID will be mandatory.

They key focus is the ‘’deterrent’’ of fraudulent practices through the following:

Ability to clearly and satisfactory link each accountable person to a procurement decision.

Ability to clearly link each accountable person to the decision to approve payment

Ability to clearly confirm who has received the money

The ability to have an end to end view of decisions from procurement approval, to payment approval right up to the receipt of funds.

In order for the solution to have significant material value, it will need to be

Deployed across the whole country (simply because GoU funds are spent and received across the country)

Implemented in all Banks (so that individuals receiving money will need to confirm their identity before funds and activated in their accounts)

Implemented in every institution that spends GoU funds

Based in the issuing of a GoU payment card to all GoU Employees (which will be replaced with the National ID when it is ready)

The solution provider will need to have the following

Sufficient funds to implement and manage the entire system for at least 10 years

Funds to provide the personalized smart cards t approximately 300,000 individuals

A national communication solution to interconnect all the relevant institutions where decisions are made and those where payments are received

Secure premises where the solutions and employees conduct their day to day business.

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