President Yoweri Museveni has commended the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) for taking a firm stand against the corrupt in Uganda, describing the vice as one of the brakes that are slowing down the rate of economic growth of the country.
“Our big problem now is corruption of public officials. This is what is slowing down our rate of growth and I am very glad that you are very harsh on it. The DPP Jane Abodo said that those people must go to jail, must lose opportunities of leadership and must pay back everything they have stolen. So, in that way your economy will grow much faster,” he observed.
The President made the remarks yesterday as the Chief Guest at the 6th Joan Kagezi Memorial Lecture.
Joan Kagezi who was the Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions was killed on the night of 15th March 2015 at Kiwatule, a Kampala suburb while on her way to her residence.
The event that was held at Speke Resort Hotel in Munyonyo run under the Theme: ‘Organized Crime and the Necessity for Witness Protection’ attracted all Prosecutors from the country who had just concluded their 3-day symposium where they reviewed their performances and also shared experiences as well as challenges in the course of delivering Justice to the people of Uganda.
The Prosecutors at the 3-day 2nd Annual Symposium were also equipped with the knowledge and skills in effective management and prosecution of emerging organized crimes and the major concern of the security for prosecutors and witnesses.
Commenting on the day’s event, President Museveni said despite some complications on apprehending the culprits responsible for the killing of Joan Kagezi all avenues and methods should be used to expose the killers and bring them to book.
“There may be some complications especially when the killers are living abroad, but I think that does not stop us from exposing them whatever the complications or using any methods to get to them,” he said.
The President told the gathering that he has been watching the unfolding of events in Uganda since 1960 and all those who participate in the killings end up becoming losers. He added that when innocent people are slain unfairly and prematurely, the National Resistance Movement concentrates on continuing with the struggle ‘Aluta Continua’ and eventually the perpetrators will pay dearly.
He said the bigger group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) that was responsible for these atrocities have been pursued and punished and sent where they sent the late Kagezi. He pledged to make a follow up with the new administration of the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) Chief AIGP Tom Magambo in pursuit of the direct killers of Joan Kagezi.
“You know what we have done with ADF, and we are not yet finished. We are sending them where they sent Kagezi. The bigger group I am handling them in the DR Congo but there are particular ones who must be held accountable,” he stressed adding that these killings are really very shallow. You kill okay but are you going to live forever yourself? The killing simply means you made me depart from earth a bit early but in the end, you will also come,” he observed.
President Museveni however told the gathering that the Government took over the responsibility of educating the children of the late Kagezi who is still alive through them as the lineage has not been terminated.
On the issue of salary enhancement, President Museveni assured the nation that all Public Servants will receive pay rise but it is a matter of time as some priorities take precedence.
The President commended the Judicial fraternity especially the Prosecutors for being patient as they now begin to realize the rise in their emoluments.
“I am very happy that you are patient and now you are beginning to see that we can move but move in stages. We are very cautious of this because of those specific roles of peace making in society,” he said.
The President further noted that it was in the spirit of prioritization that is why State Attorneys and Prosecutors were considered first as their contribution to society as peacemakers is very crucial.
He reminded them of the early days when the Judges earned more than the President because their contribution to society was urgently required.
“At the very beginning when Chief Justice Emeritus Benjamin Odoki was in charge, the CA Judges were earning over shs.3 million and the President was getting only shs.150,000,” he said.
Commenting on the income tax levied on salaries of Prosecutors, President Museveni assured them that he has already directed the Ministry of Finance to exempt Prosecutors from paying income tax but hastened to add that they will make their contribution through consumables like beer and perfumes.
On the law protecting witnesses, the President asked the Attorney General to work on those laws and also recommended that the amount of money needed for the protection of Prosecutors should be enhanced to more than the proposed shs.900 million.
On increasing the number of prosecutors as recommended by the DPP Jane Abodo, President Museveni assured them of the Government’s commitment to increase the number, but it all depends on the timing. He also said it was necessary to first remunerate the few existing Prosecutors so as to motivate them.
“That is why I advised Abodo, last year that the little more we had put in, we said let the few work, when they are happy even if they are overworked they will still be happy because of the better pay then we shall see how to move on,” he said.
President Museveni however reiterated his stand on prioritization expressing the importance of good planning. He said the National Resistance Movement managed to defend the country through prioritization and emphasizing on what was most essential. He said it was in the same vein the army was built, adding that soldiers were then sleeping in grass thatched houses, and were receiving low pay because emphasis was on acquiring enough weapons and adequate manpower.
“We were then able to have peace and peace eventually slightly gave us more money now we are able to address a little bit of salary and housing. In our Luo language we say mot-mot and is really the correct way and you will go far. You don’t have to do everything at the same time. No, do small – small but most crucial at that particular time. We shall manage and we are moving,” the President stressed.
President Museveni also thanked the Director of Public Prosecutions Ms. Abodo and her team for remembering Jane Kagezi and reminding the people of Uganda to get together each year to salute her contribution to the country.
The Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo disclosed that Joan Kagezi was killed at the time she was leading the prosecution of the 2010 Kampala bombing suspects.
“We were profoundly traumatized,” he noted.
He expressed his gratitude to learn from the DPP Jane Abodo that the matter has been given special consideration and prayed that the perpetrators of the evil crime will be brought to book.
The Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo further thanked President Museveni for giving special attention to the Justice Institutions in Uganda where a lot of achievements have been registered.
While echoing the compliments made by the DPP Jane Abodo to the President, Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo added that there is today a difference in the working of the Justice System attributing the positive changes to President Museveni for his unwavering support.
“What she has been thanking you about is because you are enhancing the capacity of the Public Prosecutions to ensure that the wrong persons are convicted and the innocent ones do not suffer,” he said.
He however emphasized the need to have a formidable investigating arm and a robust prosecuting body in order to ensure the success of Justice.
The Chief Justice reminded Prosecutors of their responsibilities of being ethical, committed as well as understanding the purpose for which the Institution of Prosecution exists.
The Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka noted that in the Judicial system, Prosecutors have a unique position in society as they represent the State, the people, the accused and the Court.
The Attorney General reminded Prosecutors of the important role they play in society that calls for their diligence while carrying out their duties with no traces of corruption; actual or perceived. He further thanked President Museveni for his support to the Prosecutors and Attorneys in his office.
The DPP Jane Frances Abodo thanked President Museveni for the pledges fulfilled that include among others the enhancement of the salaries of Prosecutors, income tax waiver to the 300 prosecutors, the provision of vehicles that will help them in the execution of their duties and the support to their SACCO.
“The morale of the prosecutors is very high,” she reported.
She added that they have managed to recover shs.20 billion that has been remitted to the consolidated fund. She further added that according to the survey carried out, the public is rated at 75% satisfied with their service delivery.
The function was also attended by some of the Chief Justices Emeritus and the former Directors of Public Prosecutions who were presented with awards in recognition of their contribution to the Judiciary and country at large.
Others were the Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal and Members of the Diplomatic Corps among others.