New Vision Online : Top Wildlife bosses suspended over graft

LionessI have a feeling it is not a coincidence that this story (see below) has come out soon after the suspension of the hunting licenses.  It seems that the new board at Uganda Wildlife Authority is taking its responsibilities seriously.

This also brings more questions to the table in discussions around whether sport hunting should be allowed here.  Similar to my feelings about oil development, I believe sport hunting could be of benefit to Uganda if it is managed properly.  However, there are serious issues that must be dealt with before a final decision is made – both in terms of determining accurate wildlife populations and the Wildlife Authority’s ability to have a fair process for granting hunting concessions.

I don’t believe that people enter their chosen profession planning to become corrupt.  Certainly nobody would go into the wildlife conservation field in order to get rich.  So at what point do selfish aims start to outweigh your commitment to the animals you originally set out to save?  I am sure that as you move up in a system where corruption is so pervasive, you must look around and say “everybody else is doing it, why shouldn’t I get some, too?”

So what does it take to maintain the idealism and integrity that I believe most people start out with?  When Mapesa and the other top brass at the Wildlife Authority visit the parks, do they ever go on game drives to see the wildlife that they are charged with protecting to remind themselves how amazing these parks are?  Or do they just sit in offices in meetings all day, cut off from the natural beauty?

And what about the concessionaires who are presumably paying the bribes?  Will they be prosecuted?  Obviously they shouldn’t be paying bribes, but if sport hunting is your business, and the only way to engage in that business is to pay bribes, what options does that leave you?  You could choose not to operate in Uganda, but I’ll venture the bold statement here and say that you would probably have to avoid operating in East Africa altogether if you want to stay totally clean.

If you are anti-hunting, it might be easy to just say “well fine, then – stop hunting.”  But it’s not that easy.  Let me give a different example.  What if you are a missionary group that wants to build wells in a village but have to pay off the local councilor to be allowed to operate there?  Do you withhold the water from people in need because your ethics preclude you from giving the “gift” to the councilor?  This is not just something I am making up – this is the order of business here, so it is a valid ethical dilemma.

Corruption is a very complex issue.  How do you root out a problem when the only people with the authority to eliminate it are benefiting the most from it?

From New Vision Online:

Top Wildlife bosses suspended over graftMonday, 9th August, 2010

By Gerald Tenywa

THE head of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Moses Mapesa, and another boss are forced on leave over corruption. Two other bosses resigned. Joseph Tibeijuka, the director for finance, is now the acting executive director. The board chairman, Dr. Boysier Oumar Muballe, said the suspension would help the authority investigate the matter without interference.  He cited the award of concessions and the creation of illegal departments for the action.“The board has taken a decision to send Moses Mapesa on forced leave with effect from today August 9,” said Muballe. “We have instituted an audit over a number of suspicions.”

Read the rest:   New Vision Online : Top Wildlife bosses suspended over graft.

Mark D. Jordahl – Kampala

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9 Responses to New Vision Online : Top Wildlife bosses suspended over graft

  1. I’m not sure these people joined the Wildlife Authority from a sense of compassion. Perhaps their main motivator was to get a job and, once they had that, get their fingers on a slice of the Uganda pie.

    You can’t make compromises when it comes to graft because then it will go on and on. The only thing to do is to demand transparency from ALL layers of government. Western donors are probably in the best position to insist on such transparency.

    http://www.wordsfromawoman.wordpress.com

    • Mark Jordahl says:

      It’s hard to tell, isn’t it? And hard to tell where the real truth lies. I am in one of the national parks as I write this, and just heard one interesting new theory – that the two men under investigation, Moses Mapesa and Sam Mwanda, are the two who have been most outspoken against the oil development that is happening in the national parks here. So now I wonder if this is just a way to get them out or if they actually were involved in questionable concessions. So hard to know.

      And while I think you are right that western donors should have the most influence since they comprise 30% of the Ugandan budget, I don’t think they have the stomach to actually hold back any of their funds, and the Ugandan government knows that. There have been threats in the past (such as around the bill that was introduced here to give the death penalty to some homosexuals), but there are a lot of powerful interests in the west who benefit from the aid industry, too.

      Tricky, complex issues.

      Mark D. Jordahl Conservation Concepts 256 775 295 126 Blog: http://conserveuganda.wordpress.com Website: http://www.ConservationConcepts.net

      “Give me a Wildness whose glance no civilization can endure.” – Henry David Thoreau

  2. Geoffrey says:

    Hullo Mark,

    You reflect genuine views in your article based on first impression. However, you might want to refocus your opinion in light of new details currently emerging in the press. I would be interested in knowing what your view is now.

    • Mark Jordahl says:

      Hi Geoffrey,

      Well, it sure is hard to get to the bottom of things, isn’t it? I just got back from Murchison last night so am just now getting caught up on the news. I have a few thoughts now, prefaced with the acknowledgement that the hunting concessions may have had little, if anything, to do with the suspensions (but also that there have been reports of irregularities around those, as well).

      1. Very few things here seem to have a single cause. I am curious as to how the current board was selected, as that may give some insight into their motives and motivations. Do you know how they were selected?

      2. If you read my response to the comment below, while in the park I heard an unsubstantiated theory that it could be related to these men speaking out against the oil (although certainly going back and forth in public statements). Again, this is just based on rumours, but it gets back to the fact that there are often a number of reasons for anything happening, and we may never actually know what the reasons are for this.

      3. Even in the recent press there seems to be confusion and a mixing of this suspension with the investigation around the Nkuringo permits (an investigation which has also had controversy around its methods). The Monitor talks about the method by which Mapesa was appointed (although I don’t know how that would implicate Mwanda), the fact that he refused to sign checks for the board, and the Nkuringo mess at http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/-/688334/976566/-/x3avtx/-/, leaving it up in the air as to which may have provoked the suspensions and dismissal. The East African Business Week focuses just on Nkuringo with some of the same misinformation that I wrote about at http://conserveuganda.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/the-permit-wars/. Neither of these says that they were suspended/sacked “because of [insert questionable act here].” So maybe it is just for “general irregularities,” but there must be something in particular that ticked somebody off.

      4. Regardless of the cause of the investigation, most of what I wrote still stands.

      5. I’d be curious to know what your view is.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Mark

      Mark D. Jordahl Conservation Concepts 256 775 295 126 Blog: http://conserveuganda.wordpress.com Website: http://www.ConservationConcepts.net

      “Give me a Wildness whose glance no civilization can endure.” – Henry David Thoreau

      • Mark Jordahl says:

        Actually, I have to correct myself – the Monitor article does state directly that he was sacked because of the method of his appointment being questioned and in another place quotes a “source” saying directly that he was sacked because of the refusal to sign checks. So, there are two to choose from, and, of course, countless others.

  3. Well Mark,

    I agree with Geoffrey, what we know now about what has been described as the wild fire at the wildlife Authority is definately a case of the Board over stepping their limits.

    We need to work hard to stem this madness.

    • Mark Jordahl says:

      Hey Joel. Nice to hear from you – long time!

      And yep, it sure does seem like things aren’t as simple as they were first made out to be. So much information is coming out so quickly that it is hard to keep up with it all. My response to Geoffrey’s comment is already outdated.

      It’ll be interesting to see how all this plays out!

  4. It’s unfortunate that now the guess work has moved to Oil issues. Please Read section 9(1) of the uganda wild life act cap 200 of 2000 and you will Know why Mr mapesa’s Contact was terminated. If be you patient there shall be enough reason for you to Knowledgeably decide on issues of corruption at UWa and the perpetrators thereof Very soon. let me hope You retain some credibility in your assumptions in the mean time. Living in Uganda and being married to a ugandan does’nt stop Eurocentricity. One more point I have never been M

  5. It’s unfortunate that now the guess work has moved to Oil issues. Please Read section 9(1) of the uganda wild life act cap 200 of 2000 and you will Know why Mr mapesa’s Contact was terminated. If be you patient there shall be enough reason for you to Knowledgeably decide on issues of corruption at UWa and the perpetrators thereof Very soon. let me hope You retain some credibility in your assumptions in the mean time. Living in Uganda and being married to a ugandan does’nt stop Eurocentricity. One more point,I have never been Mr Otafiire’s Doctor However i have been Mr Mapesa’s Orthopaedic Surgeon!!!

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