ROGERS WADADA: Did the British Government rely on false information to sanction Anita Among?

Is there a possibility that the British Government could have tapped into the Speaker’s private email or phone communications or the proxies might have confessed they were covertly working as shields for illicit money? I do not think the British government could have imposed sanctions against somebody without doing their homework. The balance of convenience seems to lie in their favour.

Last week, Andrew Mitchell, the United Kingdom Deputy Foreign Secretary confirmed his Government had slapped travel bans and asset freezes against two former Ministers Agnes Nandutu and Kitutu Gorretti as well as the current Speaker Anita Among. Both Nadutu and Kitutu have remained mute but the Speaker has been throwing tantrums on the floor of parliament saying she was not bothered by the sanctions and that they were of no consequence to her. It is her sentimental reaction that has generated a debate towards her hence this writing.

The Speaker has since denied owning anything in the United Kingdom as if to suggest that the sanctions against her were baseless. In other words, she wants us to believe the British Government relied on false information to slap sanctions against her. As of now, we do not know who is telling the truth but certainly, somebody is telling lies. At this rate, heads will start rolling soon, the truth will come out.

Initially, the speaker introduced a narrative that she was being witch hunted for her firm stand against homosexuality but this argument soon withered out for reasons that her predecessor Rebecca Kadaga presided over and passed a similar law but she was never sanctioned. Secondly, Legislators like Asuman Basalirwa the mover of the motion on homosexuality is not on the list meaning that these were corruption related sanctions and nothing else. Infact it was termed as the “epitome of corruption”.

As questions are being asked, letters written from office to office within Uganda, the United Kingdom is quiet and not bothered, for they do not need any one’s permission to take the decisions that they took. That is a chapter closed and whoever is bothered by the sanctions should lick their paws hoping the fountain of honour in Uganda will intervene. Am sure some negotiations are going on behind the scene but the way I understand modern countries like the UK, whatever is going on is a quagmire in its infancy.

As confusion was building up on whether the country should worry about the sanctions, a leaked letter which has since been confirmed to be true revealed the President had written asking questions and had even asked the Inspectorate of Government to establish if the properties being mentioned as belonging the Anita Among were declared to the ombudsman in accordance the Leadership Act.

The IGG has since come out to clarify that no assets in the UK were ever declared, that is one nil for Anita Among. In his letter, the President of Uganda has confirmed having met the British Embassy Officials who briefed him on why and how the decision was taken. In asking, am sure the President is only seeking a second opinion. I can only hope the President is not taking these steps in an attempt to shield his blue eyed girl who as a speaker has brought “sanity” to the august house.

So far, the confirmation of the IGG is in conformity with the speaker’s denial but who said the Among is stupid enough to register these properties in her personal names. So far, she appears innocent but I know the President could be investigating her behind the scenes. With this denial, a new question is introduced, what informed the Britons to believe the speaker had/has assets and bank accounts in Britain, could the assets be registered in the names of proxies?

Is there a possibility that the British Government could have tapped into the Speaker’s private email or phone communications or the proxies might have confessed they were covertly working as shields for illicit money? I do not think the British government could have imposed sanctions against somebody without doing their homework. The balance of convenience seems to lie in their favour.

For me what bothered me most about this scandal is how the President’s letter to the Prime Minister on the subject found its way to the social media. Many have been left wondering how such sensitive communications could end up circulating on public platforms. Was it deliberate or somebody is in breach of Public Service Standing orders on secrecy. Recall the President’s first letter was preceded with another from the President to the Minister of Foreign affairs on the same subject matter.

All said and done, I am wondering why the government is bothered about the sanctions. Many have been sanctioned before and are still serving their punishments quietly. What is special about Anita Among? After all, Among has already come out openly saying she is not bothered by the sanctions now generating debate in the country in the corridors of Parliament. What is clear is that the woman from Bukedea is in panic and may be negotiating s smooth landing. She has even blasted the Government of Uganda for taking a laid back stand when she is being humiliated.

If the Jejje Odong led investigation confirms the Speaker owns assets and bank accounts in Britain, her next task is to explain where she got money to quickly accumulate all these properties within the short period of time. All these issues would not have come up if Anita Among had taken a laid-back stand, she seems obsessed with power but who does such things successful under the leadership of Museveni?

The assertion that she is carrying a cross for over 40 million Ugandans is fallacy, she is on her own. She is thus an asset to herself, her family and maybe President Museveni who she said is the only person who recognizes her as an asset. The rest of us may only remember her for having lived a lavish life at the expense of tax payers. I am tempted to think the government blundered in allowing the institution of Parliament to be self accounting.

Should evidence be provided that the speaker has accumulated assets overseas, she risks being impeached despite being a Member of Parliament with the majority members in the house. We ought to be reminded that to become a Speaker, one must be a Member of Parliament and when one looses their parliamentary seat, they automatically lose any position held as a result of being a Member of Parliament.

It should be remembered that failure to declare one’s personal assets is fatal to those holding public office as was the case in 2006 when Ken Lukyamuzi as a Member of Parliament was kicked out. The decision was only overturned at the Supreme Court on a technicality. Thus if the allegations against Among are anything to go by, she can be impeached and barred from holding any public office for years.

However, I do not see anything happening to the Speaker as far as the law in concerned. She has done so “well”, far better all the former speakers, she has successfully bullied both men and women in Parliament into silence. Which President would want to loose such an erratic speaker, a speaker who has no respect for his colleagues in Parliament, a speaker who can bully the deputy Attorney General and even makes a declaration that he will never speak again.

Previously, the President was spending a lot of time and resources on taming Members of Parliament but the tides have since changed. We now have a speaker who can point a finger at a fellow MP and order him to apologize for trivial issues. She can even order them to remain mute or even ask them to get out of her sight. She has in fact saved Museveni a lot of money, embarrassment and valuable time, losing her for a reason based on sanctions is not an option. I do not see any action being taken against her unless it is part of the plan to create an opening for MK’s own team.

Museveni has started asking questions that I personally consider legitimate but uncalled for. For instance, he is wondering why the British would want to sanction somebody who is not listed as an accused in the iron sheet scandal. He is also wondering why somebody cannot hold an account to pay kids school fees. He also wondered why Kitutu and Nandutu are named in the sanctions yet they are still facing trial. Museveni appears not to see the signal that the British are indirectly telling us that they do not have faith in our public institutions to hold the corrupt in Government to account.

In other words, Nandutu and Kitutu are soon getting off the hook yet their actions have been viewed as the “epitome of corruption which should not have a place in society”. As all this hullabaloo is going on, no one is bothered about the decision by the United Arab Emirates which barred their financial institutions from carrying out any transaction involving the Nandutu, Anita Among and Kitutu.

If I may recap the words of the current IGG, the sole loser of corruption is the common person and not those who are taken abroad for treatment when they fall sick. Over to you Among, Ugandans are not the biblical Simon of Cyrene to help carry your cross, your accomplices will be glad to help, you must own up what has gone wrong and face it alone, we can only wish you the best in your rebuttal.

Wadada Rogers is a commentator on political, legal and social issues. Wadroger

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