Government has zero tolerance to corruption and has over the years put in place measures and structures to prevent mismanagement of embezzlement of public funds. Despite these efforts, that have even seen several public officials lose their jobs and incarcerated, gross misuse of public funds continues, according to the 2015/2016 Ombudsman’s report that was presented to Parliament on Monday.
The report indicates that the vice could be spreading among local governments, and savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs), with Sector leaders dishing out government money meant for development initiatives to ‘ghost SACCOs’. Individuals and some leaders that do not merit or qualify for funding have also benefited illegally, the report shows.
The Ombudsman says Vision 2020 Umurenge programme is one of the projects that are most affected by this wanton theft. These cases of corruption and embezzlement indicate that there is a loophole somewhere that must be plugged to prevent people from stealing public funds with impunity.
It’s clear that it shouldn’t be business as usual; these people must be stopped and punitive measures put in place to ensure such vices are too costly to undertake.
If this means reviewing the anti-corruption law or any other legislation, so be it. This could also include empowering the Ombudsman with powers to apprehend and prosecute corrupt individuals.
New mechanisms should also be instituted to ensure that SACCOs and other beneficiaries are thoroughly scrutinised before any funds are disbursed.
SACCO technical staff and managers, as well as all those handing public funds should also be trained to acquire better skills and be able to devise governance systems to help curb these vices.
Otherwise, those entrusted with public funds should not be allowed to evade the long hand of the law by merely apologising for misuse of public funds or incompetence that leads to avoidable losses.