Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has assented to the Leadership Code (Amendment) Act that requires all public officers to declare their assets, incomes, and liabilities to the Inspector General of Government.
The new law makes it compulsory for all public officers to declare their assets, incomes, liabilities to the IGG within three months of starting work in public service. Thereafter, they are required to make a declaration every five years.
First introduced in 1992, the Leadership Code Act was amended in 2017 by parliament. It sets limits on the financial behavior of public servants and put in place enforcement mechanism and other matters.
The proponents of this law say the new development follows the realization that corruption and unjust enrichment were prevalent among public officers who do not declare their assets.
The new legislation says that a leader shall be taken to have an interest where an income or asset is owned or developed by the leader, jointly owned or developed by the leader with another person, is acquired or developed by the leader for another person and others.
The others are when the income or asset is held in trust by the leader for another person or is contained in a joint account for the benefit of the leader and another person.
According to government, one of the defects in the Leadership Code (Amendment) Act passed by Parliament in 2017 is that it refers to a leader having an interest in a property and also refers to proof of ownership of the declared assets which two provisions are just requirements and not breaches yet. The two provisions under the current law attract dismissal from office.
The law provides clarification on what constitutes an interest in the property by a leader and provides for breach of the Code where a leader fails to submit a declaration or submits a false declaration. This is aimed at ensuring that leaders do not illicitly enrich themselves.
The current Act mandates persons commencing work in the Public Service after the coming into force of the 2017 amendment Act, to declare their income, assets and liabilities every five years but the amended law requires all public officers to declare their income, assets and liabilities which will provide vital information and evidence in investigating corruption.
Former Deputy IGG George Bamugemereire said the president’s endorsement of this legislation is a milestone and it is timely considering the conclusion of a process of declaration of wealth by public officials as a new government sets in.
He says the previous law provided for breaches but without sanctions in case a breach is committed, which this law now provides. According to Bamugemereire, with sanctions aligned with breaches, a tribunal provided in the Act will be operational and officials implicated in corruption scandals will face the tribunal.