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Honourable Members of the retreat, it is now clear that corruption is a big problem in Uganda. IGG estimates that the country loses Ug.sh 9.7trillion per year on account of corruption. This is not acceptable.

Therefore, corruption should be crushed and will be crushed. Before the adventof the NRM leadership, corruption was endemic in Uganda, both during the time of the British and afterwards. I have told you before that, my father who was a traditional cattle keeper, with no school education, was always in possession of an injection syringe (eboomba) and all the anti-Rwakyipumpuru(trypanosomiasis) Government controlled drugs in use at that time in both Uganda and Rwanda. Out of the Uganda Government Veterinary stores, Mzee Kaguta and all his colleagues, would buy, illegally, antrycide and pro-salt, known in Runyankore as Kachuungwa and machuunda; from Rwanda, they would buy katuku (berenel, I think they called it). Mzee Kaguta would store both syringe and the drugs in our traditional huts (ebifuuha) where there was indoor cooking and house –warming from the amahega (the fire-place). I do not know what effect the fire indoor warming, would have on the drugs. On the human drugs side, there was a thriving illegal business of abebuunzi (illegal, un-trained medical operators), using penicillin and other human drugs bought from the Government health centres and the syringes to inject them into human beings.

The colonial African policemen, behind the back of their White supervisors, would take bribes from the Wakadaara (African taxi operators) operators, to ignore the mechanical defects of the vehicle or over-loading. The chiefs were taking bribes from the Wanainchi for some service provision, e.g. issuing cattle movement permits (kufurura ente).

The teacher’s main crimes were sexually preying on school girls, beating learners, etc.

With Independence, a new problem came on the scene – the brutality, impunity and extortionate conduct of the small neo-colonial Armies. They could kill, they could rape women and they could loot Wanainchi’s property, with impunity.

When the NRA came on the scene, all this misconduct stopped. In the Luwero Triangle, the area the NRA controlled between 1981-86, any extra-judicial killings, were punished, starting with the public execution of Zabuloni and his colleague who had killed 3 Wanainchi, under the influence of alcohol, in Mulule village, near Semuto. A boy called Lubale and his group, killed some North Korean military experts on Gulu road, initially presenting themselves as war heroes who had killed Koreans in an ambush. Later on, it was discovered that the Koreans had surrendered peacefully and the Lubale group had killed them in order to keep the loot they had taken from their car without surrendering it to the NRA as was mandated by the code of conduct. They were promptly arrested, tried and punished, although I do not remember the punishment because we were entering the difficult time of the counter-offensive of Obote of 1982-1983 and when we had to make a strategic withdrawal out of upper Bulemeezi to Ssingo and lower Bulemeezi. These tough measures, created an Army of a new type. That is why one of our mobilizers, Sumini, one time crafted a verse in a song that said: “Abaserikale abali nga Ababikira - Soldiers that are like nuns”. A large part of that heritage has been kept. The Amin- Obote road blocks by the Army where the Wanainchi would be brutalized and robbed, disappeared forever. However, some corruption by a few elements in charge of money, supplies and deployment, has manifested itself. However, the patriots in the UPDF are handling this. The bulk of the UPDF is not involved and are, in fact, victims of these corrupt people. The recent attack on our FOB in Somalia and the loss of soldiers there, was partially due to this corruption of some UPDF officers.

It was, therefore, the NRA that showed that corruption in Uganda can be defeated.

The corruption we are facing now, has got two dimensions. One dimension is the stealing of Government money; taking bribes from the Public to provide Government Services; misusing the procurement procedures to cheat the state; and corruptly handling personnel issues- e.g. Nepotism and selling Government jobs. Professionally, constitutionally and logically, it is the following people that are in charge of Government money, procurement and personnel (administration): the Permanent Secretary in a Ministry; A CAO in a district; a Town Clerk in a City or Municipality; a Gombolola Chief in a Sub-County; a Managing Director in a Para-statal; and the Clerk of Parliament. In the Army, it is the Chief of Staff, the Division Admin Officer, etc. It is, initially, not the work of the Political leaders to fight corruption. However, ultimately, they are responsible for defending the interests of the people, if the Accounting officers, do not do their work.  

Apart from guarding Government money, handling procurements of the Government and handling personnel issues, the Accounting Officer, e.g. the Permanent Secretary in a Ministry, is the professional advisor to the political leaders who are seasonal – every election cycle bringing new actors. In the context of Africa, this advisor has got to be both professional and ideological. Otherwise, he or she, will be part of the problem and not part of the solution. Why? It is because the plans for a Patriotic, Pan-Africanist Uganda, struggling for social-economic transformation, are totally different from those for the colonial and neo-colonial Uganda. Those for the former, aim at building a modern, independent and prosperous Uganda with the four sectors of Commercial agriculture with ekibaro, Industry, Service and ICT, while the latter is satisfied with the strategy of producing raw-materials to support the industries of value addition of other people and the job-creation efforts of those other people.

The other dimension of corruption, is employee disloyalty in a private company. The employees who steal from their employers, are also enemies of the Country. If the employers blacklist Uganda as a Country where employees steal money from their employers with impunity, Uganda’s economy will get stunted. Therefore, it is the work of the Police to ensure that those who steal from Companies, private or Government, are held fully accountable, including paying back the money they stole on top of prison sentences.

Going back to the Government money, now that the accounting officers have let themselves down, we are coming in directly. Apart from the State House Anti- Corruption Unit, I am also setting up both a tax investigation Unit and an accountancy and audit unit. They will be able to investigate all tax evasions, under-declarations, money diverted by Parliament and stolen, etc.

On account of my experience in the colonial and immediate post-colonial times, I insisted on organizing the people to empower them to defend their interests. That is why, we set up the RC system- the Resistance Councils.

On account of our experiences with veterinary officers and medical personnel selling veterinary and human drugs, Gombolola Chiefs taking bribes, Police-men taking bribes, etc., we decided to create our own parallel popular structures – the LCI,II,III, IV and 5, Chairpersons, in addition to the Muruka, Gombolola, Saza Chiefs and the DC. Our expectation, was that these elected people would not fail to defend the interests of their people. What has happened? How does corruption take place when these kalisolisos(monitoring people) of the people, are there? This retreat should discuss that.

In the meantime, I am linking directly with the victims of the corruption of the Government people and these are the people (the Wanainchi). They have all the information.

Besides, we have the young people, the Kampala Parents and allied Products, who have a different attitude from the present accounting officers some of whom are originally villagers with a careerist and mercenary mentality. The Kampala Parents group are moved more by “passion” than by “remuneration”. However, not all the arrivals from the village, are mercenary minded.  Indeed, the NRA was, mainly, comprised of village people. They were, however, excellent.  It depends on the ideology that influences them.

The excuse of low pay, should be rejected. The Fronasa-NRA-UPDF, have, ever since 1971, worked for no pay or low pay, but we always excel. Uganda is not a fully monetized economy and society. Between 1979 and 1980, my family was staying at Kololo and we were getting a low pay. However, my sister-in-law, Kyamunyonyi, from Buhweeju, would always bring us esaano (millet flour) and we would have perfect meals. Everybody knows why the salaries were low or there was even no pay. The only mistake, was by elements in the Parliament who distorted our historical movement by paying themselves high salaries. This distorted our strategy of voluntarism instead of careerism and mercenarism. They have now realized their mistakes. However, high you put the salary, it cannot run a constituency.

Collective efforts are better – PDM, Emyooga, free education in Government schools, etc.

I could have blocked the moves by the MPs to award themselves high salaries. I opposed but did not block, because it is not always correct to block everything you consider a mistake. It is better, sometimes, to oppose but also allow people to learn from their mistakes or for the issue at hand to be clearer. In 1982, around August, my idea to the High Command to effect a strategic withdrawal from upper Bulemeezi and encourage the civilian population to leave the war zone and report to Obote so that we did not have to pointlessly scatter our small Army between fighting the Government Army and guarding the huge population, was rejected.

The majority of the High Command members, partly influenced by the need to remain near their girl-friends among the civilian population rather than by strategic thinking, argued that off-loading the civilian population and encouraging them to report to Obote, would mean that we would “appear” defeated. Hence, “appearance” was more important than reality. I had now two choices: either to split from the majority and cause an internal conflict or go along with a course of action I knew to be a mistake until reality proved me right. That is exactly what happened in the war. Around July, 1983, after the successful attack on Kiboga, in spite of the overall bad situation, I called another High Command meeting at Nyambiindo. I re-introduced the issue of sending away the civilian population so that we remain free to concentrate on fighting the Government Army. What was the reaction? The reaction was: “Kati embeera wetuse, tulina okuta ba Wanainchi nebagenda” - “where the situation is now, we must encourage the civilian population to go away from the warzone.” This is called the struggle between the two lines: the correct revolutionary and objective line and the incorrect subjective reactionary line. There is time for everything, the Bible says.

The mistake by elements in the Parliament, could not have been solved correctly at that time. It was better that they learn from their own mistakes, preserve the unity of the Movement and give us time to improve the geo-strategic situation of the region with Mobutu’s Congo, Bashir’s Sudan, Mzee Moi in Kenya who would sometimes close our borders , as well as still having a young Army, that needed metamorphosis.

Besides, the MPs, unlike the other Public Servants, were not very many in number. Their disruption was in the bad example and not in the magnitude of the money involved. They have now learnt that mistake. That is why fund-raising, is now very unpopular among MPs.

We should easily defeat the corruption. The only support we need from the Judiciary is no bailfor those accused of murder, treason, terrorism, rape, defilement, corruption (embezzlement) and village thefts, if the prosecution is ready for trial. Let the case be tried or use alternative justice, but no bail and no impunity for the above cases.

Once we deal with the corruption, we, then, have the other elements of the mass- line that I talked about at Kololo recently, different from the elite line.

Apart from security for all, we insisted on Immunization for all and health care for all; education for all ─ UPE and USE and BTVET; prosperity for all; clean water for all; infrastructure development; and continental and regional economic integration for the market of our wealth products. With these, we cannot go wrong.

I thank everybody.


Yoweri K. Museveni

 P R E S I D E N T


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