In Kenya: Ministers are Billionaires, In Uganda Nothing is Known About Their Wealth

On September 27, President William Ruto of Kenya named 22 Cabinet Secretaries with whom he is going to run the country for the next five years.  According to the 2010 Kenyan Constitution, the President is allowed to appoint not less than 14 and not more than 22 Cabinet Secretaries. 

This is a stark contrast with Uganda where there are 32 full cabinet ministers and 50 ministers of state. Away from the numbers, the Kenyan Cabinet seems to be more well off economically compared to their Ugandans counterparts. The Kenyan Constitution enjoins all public officials to make public their wealth. In Uganda, although all leaders and public servants must also declare their wealth every two years, this information is not made public. 

While appearing before the National Assembly Vetting Committee, whose proceedings were broadcast live on various televisions, Cabinet Secretaries made public their wealth cementing Kenya in the region with the most wealthy politicians. According to the public declaration; Musalia Mudavadi who was appointed as the Prime Cabinet Secretary is the richest with a net worth of Ksh 4 billion (UGX 124billion].

Mudavadi has invested heavily in real estate and aviation. Mudavadi is followed by Franklin Mithika Linturi who was appointed as the Agriculture Secretary. His declared wealth was Ksh 2.2 billion  holed up mainly in real estate and shares in a number of companies. 

Other Cabinet Secretaries declared their wealth as follows, Justin Bedan Muturi, Ksh700 million[UGX22.4], Aden Barre Duale, Ksh85 million  Alfred Ng’ang’a Mutua Ksh420 million [UGX13.4], Alice Muthoni Wahome [Water]Ksh218 million [7billion] Prof Abraham Kithure Kindiki[Interior] Ksh544million [UGX17.4], Prof Njuguna Ndung’u [Treasury] Ksh 950 million, Aisha Katana Jumwa Ksh100 million [UGX3.2billion] Davis Kimutai Chirchir [Energy] Ksh482 million [UGX15billion], Moses Kuria [Trade, Investment, and Industry] Ksh750 million , Kipchumba Murkomen [Roads, Transport and Public Works] Ksh550 million, Roselinda Soipan Tuya  Ksh156 million and Peninah Malonza [Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage] Ksh300 million.

Others are Zachariah Mwangi Njeru [Lands, Housing and Urban Development] Ksh80 million, Susan Nakhumicha Wafula [Health] Ksh101 million, Eliud Owalo [Information, Communications, and Technology] Ksh645 million, Ezekiel Machogu [Education] Ksh590 million, Ababu Namwamba [Sports] Ksh435 million, Rebecca Miano  Ksh397 million, Simon Chelugui [Co-operatives and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development] Ksh993 million, Salim Mvurya [Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs] Ksh120 million, Florence Bore [Labour] Ksh200 million, Mercy Wanjau  Ksh475 million.

Enter Uganda.

In Uganda, there is very little information publicly known about the wealth of leaders both in politics and in civil service before and after they joined the government. Although the Leadership Code Act compels all public servants including politicians to declare their incomes and liabilities once every two years, the 2015 amendment to the 2002 law prohibited the Inspector General of Government or any accounting officer from making public the declarations. Previously, the declared wealth of politicians would be published in the media upon declaration. 

Section 4A of the amended Act dictates that “The accounting officer or the head of the Ministry, department or agency to whom a declaration is made under subsection (1) shall keep the information contained in the declaration confidential and shall not disclose it to any person.”  The law however allows the declared information to be sought by the public if one’s aim is to tell the IGG what a leader could have left out. 

But the law also notes that where such access is granted this information cannot be shared with another party. Munira Ali who speaks for the IGG told the Uganda Radio Network that before even the amendment to the law, the politicians had challenged the publication of their wealth in the media. “Of course, it was helping a lot because then people would come out and volunteer information that the leaders had left out. But there is nothing we can do about it; that’s the law,” Munira said. 

The public has information about the wealth of a few of the 82 ministers in Museveni’s government before they joined the cabinet. The Minister of State for Higher Education John Chrysostom Muyingo is among the few who are known to have had significant investment before they joined the cabinet. Muyingo is the proprietor of Seeta Schools. The other is Kiryowa Kiwanuka, the Attorney General, who was managing partner at KK Associated Advocates, one of the most prominent law firms in Kampala. 

Others are; the Minister of State for Lands Samuel Mayanja, who was a managing Partner at Kampala Associated Advocates, a prominent law firm in Kampala, the state minister for Information, Joyce Juliet Nabbosa Ssebugwawo, who was a businesswoman with shares in companies such as CBS radio. Having leaders, who have never had any significant businesses before they assumed leadership positions, analysts such as Dr. Yusuf Serunkuma, says is the reason President Yoweri Museveni is still in power 37 years and counting.  

“It is my position that only the rich should govern. I do not mean thieves or dealers, and brokers but people who have made a decent livelihood say through engaging in the business paid some taxes, and made losses from bad governance decisions. Those know what it means for struggling traders, and families. Kenya, whilst being under the weight of structural adjustment, its economy is still dominated by multinationals, has nevertheless continued to cleanse its house, ensuring orderly governance, openness, and straightforwardness that is bereft of many African countries.  And I think these are the unintended fruits of the 2007 violence because they realized the cost of disorder,” Serunkuma said. 

He also takes offense with wanting to compare Uganda with Tanzania and Kenya. He said these two countries now have nothing in comparison with Uganda. Kenya has changed presidents four times and Tanzania five times since 1986 when President Museveni shot his way to power. Serunkuma’s views are shared by Dr. Samuel Kazibwe, an analyst and lecturer of journalism at Uganda Cristian University. 

“After 36 years, Museveni has no urge to please anybody yet Ruto must deliver to secure a second term. Ruto also wishes to prove wrong those who doubted him, which is not the case in Uganda,” Kazibwe said. He added that because of the fact that the Kenyan public holds the appointment process to a very high standard due to their open nature, the ministers must tick all the boxes before they are considered for appointment.  

“While Ruto also rewarded loyalty like in Uganda, he went beyond by looking for industry-experienced but energetic individuals. But also [appointing] well-established individuals in the cabinet, is now a practice in Kenya. By the time someone attains that, he or she would have made some reasonable wealth professionally,” Kazibwe said.  

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