Public officials with a knack for sipping expensive whisky in five-star hotels, donning suave designer suits, and completing it with some of the most expensive watches around their wrists will have this kind of lavish lifestyle come under intense scrutiny.
Beti Kamya, the inspectorate general of government, said that a campaign to find the source of some of the unexplained wealth of public officials will be launched on December 9, with President Museveni expected to be the guest of honour. And if the officials’ answers do not add up, the full arm of the law will catch up with them.
“...Ugandans have been praying for the arrest of the big fish. These big fish know how to cover their trails but we shall catch them through auditing their lifestyles against their known sources of income. People should get curious about the unknown wealth that people have accumulated...” says Kamya.
She made the declaration at the Uganda Media Center in Kampala, flanked by representatives from other anti-corruption offices like the State House Anti-corruption Unit, office of the director of public prosecutions, and office of the auditor general, among others.
The operationalisation of the lifestyle audit shall be under the Inspectorate of Government in accordance with the Leadership Code Act which requires all government workers to declare their wealth with the inspectorate of government.
Kamya says that to strengthen the fight against corruption, they have engaged religious leaders to drive their messages to the congregation towards raising the awareness of the population towards the fight against graft, inform the population about the impact of corruption and the right procedure of fighting corruption.
For all its noble intentions, the campaign is expected to run into some challenges, especially when it comes to prosecuting the culprit. Many public officials hide their assets through beneficial owners, such as relatives and friends.
While public officials are required to declare any beneficial owners of their wealth, many do not do that. Kamya said that there is need to put a strong legislation in place to auction off assets of officials who cannot explain their source of wealth.
It is hard to see that the people who own some of this ill-gotten wealth can pass a legislation that could effectively strip them of their assets. Kamya says the new wave intends to help them save the taxpayer from the annual Shs 10 trillion shillings lost through corruption.