CHOGM sins continue to haunt perpetrators in Uganda


(eTN) – The scandal is simply not going away and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), once a darling word to boost hotel capacity and create infrastructure along the Entebbe to Kampala corridor of the greater metropolitan area, has become synonymous with corruption, police investigations, and prosecutions by the Inspector General of Government.

The latest media reports again center around the former Minister of State for Tourism, Serapio Rukundo, whose decision to take all the proposals made by the national Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (HTTI) towards training for the summit and capacity building and then engaged foreign partners at a multiple of the projected in-house cost had already at the time caused furious arguments, before it was even known that the training proved useless and ineffective for the purpose.

Sidestepping and “cold storing” HTTI, located at the Crested Crane Hotel in Jinja, also damaged the long-term future of the institute, as all capacity-building measures proposed in the comprehensive document submitted to government by the HTTI principal and board at the time had outlined the benefits of training both at the institution, as well as having mobile training units dispatched into the CHOGM hotels to teach on site to workers who could not be spared by their employers.

A Ugandan registered human resource company, participating in the alleged swindle, also disappeared from the scene, as did the owners, when questions were first raised at committee levels of the last parliament, and it became clear that there was a prima facie case building up for taking the matter to court.

However, while still in office, Mr. Rukundo managed to fend off such action, but when losing his parliamentary seat in Kabale and being retired from cabinet, the tables were finally turned.

It is understood that CID officers are now actively searching for documentary evidence about the sequence of events how this alleged swindle happened, how the partners were selected in a non-competitive and non-bidding fashion, why a government-owned institution, which, in fact, had developed all the scoping documents and draft curricula in detail were pushed aside, and what if any benefits came to those who were meant to be trained.

As it is coming to four years in November since CHOGM was held in Uganda, a high-profile event, which benefitted the country greatly in terms of exposure and publicity abroad, action finally seems to be taken against those whom the public accounts committee of the last parliament pin pointed at the time, only to be overruled in the plenary session, which gave a broad absolution to all at the time. Yet it seems, the office of the IGG, already prosecuting the former Vice President, clearly thinks that this absolution was worthless and is building up case files before issuing arrest warrants and bringing the culprits to justice.