Uganda hunts for “CHOGM thieves”


KAMPALA, Uganda (eTN) – While a group of members of parliament continues in their hunt for details of government expenditure for the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which was held here in the capital city of Kampala, unsavory undertones have now been introduced by some of them and been echoed by willing sections of the media sensing “blood and making sales boosting headlines.

It has of late become more common to speak generally of “catching the thieves” without however being able to put names, companies or specific circumstances to the hunt for the truth, thereby compromising the ultimate goals of full accountability.

Sections of the media have also started singling out certain hotels on which they report prominently, relishing the publicity they create with such one sided broad sides. One hotel, clearly not a favorite of one of the local papers, was once again being ripped into but, as incidentally reported by eTN some months ago, the management was swift to reject the claims for refunds saying the rooms were ready for occupancy but many of the booked CHOGM participants did not show up, resulting in contractually agreed no-show charges, while others on arrival tried to bargain on rates and several of those then did not take up residence and moved elsewhere, again resulting in no-show and cancellation charges.

That, according to a hotel source, was the reason the advance payments had not been returned and government had been informed accordingly, and should they be sued they will vigorously defend their claims. Read the full article via which also included the shenanigans of a hotel along Entebbe road, never on the list of approved CHOGM hotels, not housing any events or CHOGM delegates, never completed and still having received, according to the reports now gradually becoming available, over 2.2 billion Uganda shillings.

It is hoped that a comprehensive final audit result can point to areas of weakness, and where possible recover some of the funds if overcharges or unjustified charges are proven, it also concludes that pre-empting the ultimate findings with speculation and allegations is not helpful and may in fact damage Uganda’s efforts to attract conferences, meetings and conventions to the superior facilities created ahead of the summit, should potential organizers be thrown off the destination by such rumors.