Ms. Kristalina Georgieva,
International Monetary Fund
1900 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20431
June 07, 2021
Dear Ms. Kristalina Georgieva,
Ugandans and friends of Uganda beseech you and the entire management of the International Monetary Fund to decline approving the proposed $1 billion ECF to Uganda due to its long-standing failure to account for public funds. In addition, the Ugandan regime is now considered illegitimate by most Ugandans.
On January 14, 2021, dictator Museveni lost a Presidential election — 54.19% to 34.83% per independent tallies — to principal challenger, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (aka Bobi Wine), though Museveni’s handpicked electoral commission declared him winner. The fraudulent declaration is currently being challenged in the East African Court of Justice with supporting evidence that was declined by a partisan Uganda Supreme Court.
It would be unconscionable for the IMF to allocate more funds to a regime so riddled with endemic corruption that the almost $1 billion that IMF, World Bank & other international donors allocated to Uganda in 2020 for Covid relief was either embezzled or misdirected towards military suppression of opposition political party supporters.
Some covid funds were channeled to Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa’s two daughters’ company which was awarded a contract to deliver Oxygen to Uganda’s hospitals, but failed to do so. https://pearltimes.co.ug/first-son-kainerugabas-wife-charlotte-another-minister-kutesa-daughter-on-spot-over-inflated-covid19-oxygen-plants-contract-sum-delays/
Meanwhile, Ugandans died (in 2020) and continue to die (June 2021) of Covid-19 due to lack of oxygen in hospitals. https://www.monitor.co.ug/uganda/news/national/investigation-how-lack-of-oxygen-poor-health-sector-is-killing-covid-19-patients-in-uganda-3213300
Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa has himself been implicated in various corruption scandals in Uganda. And, in 2018, he was indicted in New York for accepting a bribe from a Chinese businessman in exchange for facilitating Chinese investment interests in Uganda. https://observer.ug/news/headlines/68019-us-court-upholds-minister-sam-kutesa-briber-conviction
As this letter to Senator Coons from the New York Bar Association indicates, World Bank Covid relief money to Uganda was also misappropriated: 2020812-UgandaWorldBank.pdf
New York Review of Books article on how Covid relief funds were likely redirected towards military suppression, including during the November 18, 2020, protests: In Uganda, Another Museveni Crackdown | by Helen Epstein | The New York Review of Books (nybooks.com)
More Press stories on Covid-19 related Corruption in Uganda https://medium.com/u4-anti-corruption-resource-centre/ugandas-covid-19-supplementary-budget-pandemic-response-or-cash-bonanza-3296d8f338b6 https://www.independent.co.ug/covid-19-exposes-true-cost-of-corruption/ https://www.monitor.co.ug/uganda/news/national/prosecute-thieves-of-covid-19-cash-report-3231244
According to the June 1, 2021, IMF press release 21/152’s FAQ section on the Staff Level Agreement on a three-year $1 billion Financing Package to Uganda:
“The Program’s transparency and governance reforms will build upon the improvements launched by the government’s new leadership code – which requires government officials to disclose their assets, incomes and liabilities, and clarifies sanctions in case of false reporting.”
The “new leadership code’ is a smokescreen. Runaway corruption in Uganda is not due to a lack of a leadership code. Uganda has had a leadership code act since 2002, https://www.ugandalaws.com/principal-legislation/leadership-code-act
but it has had no effect on corruption because corrupt officials are intricately linked to Museveni and his kin. Museveni also fuels corruption by openly bribing members of parliament whenever he wants to pass controversial legislation such as the removal of the age limit clause from the constitution in 2017. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-uganda-politics/ugandan-mps-get-8000-each-for-work-on-extending-presidents-rule-spokesman-idUSKBN1CT1J6
There is no new substantive leadership code. Museveni simply just announced a “leadership-code tribunal.” Experience shows that such announcements are merely stratagems that Museveni uses to appear to be addressing international and domestic calls for action. https://www.mediacentre.go.ug/media/president-museveni-swears-new-leadership-code-tribunal
According to the press release’s FAQ section:
“The [Uganda] Government has already completed the audit of COVID-19 spending for FY 19/20, which is expected to be published in the coming days. Some aggregate procurement reports have already been published and individual procurement contracts will also be published in the next few days.” https://www.imf.org/en/Countries/UGA/uganda-qandas
Question: Why did the International Monetary Fund reach an agreement with the Ugandan regime on the ECF before publication of its audit of Covid-19 spending? And why only FY 19/20? Much of the Covid-19 related fraud transpired in FY 20/21 (1 July 2020 – June 30, 2021)?
The Political and Human Rights situation in Uganda
Beyond financial and economic aspects, the dire political and human rights situation in Uganda is enough reason to hold off on approving the ECF to the Uganda regime which is considered illegitimate by most Ugandans — outside of a tiny business elite and regime beneficiaries. Aware of the population’s sentiments, General Museveni has since the election in January 2021, escalated abductions, torture, and murder of opposition party supporters in a bid to eliminate evidence of his electoral fraud — and to cower the population into not protesting it. On November 18, 2020, during the campaign period, Ugandan security forces shot dead more than 100 citizens protesting the arrest of Presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, though the officially acknowledged count is 54 people.
BBC documentary on the November Killings committed by Uganda Security Forces https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7d2AvLEPyA
Thousands of political prisoners — including 17 of Honorable Kyagulanyi’s campaign team arrested on December 30, 2020 — are languishing in prisons and ungazetted detention centers. Scores have either been maimed, killed or both. The scale of the abuses is reminiscent of the worst of Idi Amin.
Several international media including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, The BBC, and The Guardian have in recent months reported the Ugandan regime’s gross human rights abuses.
New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/11/world/africa/uganda-election-disappearances-museveni.html
Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/03/12/uganda-opposition-torture/
The United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and the US State Department have also published reports detailing the abuses. https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/04/1089642 https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/03/11/uganda-end-enforced-disappearances-opponents https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/UGANDA-2020-HUMAN-RIGHTS-REPORT.pdf
In 2016, the Uganda army killed more than 100 people, including women and children in the Kasese region on the orders Museveni. https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/10/10/uganda-no-justice-2016-kasese-massacre-security-forces
And for over two decades, Museveni’s regime committed “a silent genocide” in Northern Uganda under the guise of fighting Joseph Kony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8boQaql6Ofc
Unfortunately, the abuses are still ongoing as of June 2021: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/06/uganda-bobi-wine-yoweri-museveni-hundred-opposition-activist-detained-without-trial-new-wave-repression
Many Ugandans are seeking refuge in Kenya, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania.
Uganda has also been implicated in instigating and exacerbating conflicts in neighboring countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, leading to deaths of millions of people. https://www.dw.com/en/ugandas-hidden-role-in-congos-conflict/a-16494434
Given the documented lack of accountability and poor human rights record in Uganda, we humbly request that the International Monetary Fund refrains from approving the pending ECF to the country until the fiscal, political, and human rights situation clears. Continued donor funding gives Museveni license to continue misallocating funds while suppressing and killing Ugandans with impunity. Moreover, the anticipated oil production by Total on which the IMF partly bases its argument for Uganda’s ability to pay back is still being contested by international environmental organizations and by Ugandans concerned about the associated pipeline’s effects on their land, lakes, rivers, and the climate. https://www.stopeacop.net/
In cases of humanitarian aid, international agencies such as USAID, DANIDA and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (@FCDOGUK) should facilitate Ugandans directly through carefully vetted CSO’s, cultural, and religious institutions — with no ties to the regime.
We are following closely and anxiously await your response on this matter.
Ugandans, Friends of Uganda
The People Power Movement in Diaspora