Uganda: Second minister charged in major corruption scandal

Kampala, Uganda –

Ugandan prosecutors on Monday indicted a second government minister on corruption-related charges in a scandal stemming from the diversion of roofing sheets that were supposed to be distributed to vulnerable people.

The finance minister in charge of the plan, Amos Lugorbi, pleaded not guilty when charged in a court in the capital, Kampala. Another minister, Mary Goretti Kittutu, was also indicted last week.

The scandal implicated at least 22 senior officials, including the vice president, speaker of parliament, prime minister, and ministers.

More officials are likely to be indicted later this week.

President Yoweri Museveni, whose government is often accused of lacking the political will to curb corruption, has ordered detectives to investigate the case and has issued thousands of tickets allocated to people in remote areas of Karamoja. It has prosecuted those deemed responsible for diversion of metal roofing sheets.

The scandal came to light in February after the local newspaper New Vision reported that security officials in eastern Uganda intercepted government-branded steel plates being sold by relatives of Kittutu, the minister in charge of Karamoja.

New Vision later reported that thousands of iron plates have been systematically shared among various government officials since June.

In the case of Lugoloobi, the newspaper published a photo of what it said was the minister’s goat shed covered in government property.

Corruption among public officials is rampant in this East African country, but officials involved in major scandals rarely face criminal charges.

Marlon Agaba, executive director of the Ugandan lobby group Anti-Corruption Coalition, said: “We welcome prosecutions because we have a culture of impunity because (the suspect’s) godfather is in the system.” said. “We know government officials don’t steal iron plates from the poor, they steal billions of shillings.”

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