Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director and Chairwoman. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Friends Of Europe
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it’s put in place a system of checks and balances to ensure that the $491.5 million in COVID-19 emergency loan to Uganda won’t be stolen, including publication of the names of companies awarded significant contracts and the names of the owners, in addition to an independent audit in one year.
The Ugandan regime, under Gen. Yoweri Museveni, is notorious for human rights abuses and corruption. In recent weeks Museveni has come under fire for abusing the COVID-19 related lockdowns to brutalize political opponents, including a member of Parliament who was arrested and tortured.
In approving the nearly half a billion dollars loan to the Museveni regime, the IMF said it was balancing the need for immediate COVID-19 relief “against appropriate accountability and transparency.” There will also be in place “targeted transparency and accountability measures,” the IMF said.
The IMF made the disclosure regarding the emergency loan to Uganda in response to a series of questions from Black Star News addressed to Tao Zhang, a deputy managing director.
“Given the level of regime corruption what measures have the IMF put in place to ensure that the funds will not be diverted to personal bank accounts by Gen. Yoweri Museveni and his officials or for unintended purposes such as next year’s Presidential election—which incidentally the dictator now says could be postponed?” Black Star News wrote in the letter of inquiry to the IMF. “You must be aware that Chinese national named Patrick [Ho] was convicted in federal court in New York in 2018 of bribing Gen. Museveni and his foreign minister Sam Kutesa $500,000 each in return for illegal oil concessions for CEFC CHINA ENERGY. Did the IMF Board weigh this as a possible risk factor?”
The letter also noted the millions of dollars “embezzled from the hundreds of millions donated by the International community to aid refugees in Uganda who fled from the Sudan conflict.
“The regime has also been abusing the COVID-19 lockdown to attack opposition leaders including a Member of Parliament named Francis Zaake who was arrested and tortured after he distributed food to his starving constituents,” the Black Star News inquiry stated.
“The regime has also refused to investigate the Kasese massacre of more than 100 civilians in 2016 including women and children as reported by Human Rights Watch,” the letter added.
The Black Star News inquiry concluded, “While it’s true that Uganda like all African countries is a victim of the Covid-19 pandemic, without any extraordinary guarantees to protect the disbursement and distribution of these funds how can this not be seen by Ugandans (and other global citizens) as rewarding, endorsing, and legitimizing a brutal and corrupt dictatorship?”
In the statement, the IMF spokesperson said “…in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IMF maintains its commitment to address governance and corruption vulnerabilities in member countries. The IMF is working to balance the need for immediate COVID-19 financing against appropriate accountability and transparency to ensure, as best as possible, that financial help reaches those in need.”
“The IMF has also agreed with the Ugandan authorities on targeted transparency and accountability measures to follow the emergency assistance,” the IMF statement continued. “For example, they have committed to a separate reporting of funds received to allow easier tracking of resources; a publication of all large procurement contracts, together with the names of awarded companies and their beneficial owners and to conduct an independent audit on the use of the funds in about one year, and the publication of its results.”
“The audit will include an ex-post validation of delivery of the large procurement contracts…” the IMF statement said.