Where does Uganda get the fight against graft, corruption, bribery, embezzlement of funds e.t.c by public officials wrong?
One of the biggest problems Uganda is facing is corruption and embezzlement of funds. Our public leaders have been cited in continuous scandals where the nation has lost big sums of money. Despite identification of the losses we have made as a country, we have failed to recover those monies and neither have the officials cited/implicated in these scandals been brought to book and justice issued. The most commonly known scandals included Temangalo, bicycle saga, national ID saga, name them. During campaigns, NRM (and all other political parties) talked of “zero tolerance to corruption” but little is being seen of their promises. The Head Of State recently asked MP’s to exonerate his ‘(former) ministers’ who he claimed had acted “in the best interests of the country” which, to me, showed a lack of will from ‘above’ to fight these terrible acts that have spread into all offices of the country.
According to www.transparency.org, corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for personal gain.
In defining corruption, there are three aspects which should be considered;
1. The citizens
2. A weak system
3. The corrupt officials
1. The citizens: Whereas some people may say that it is the poor system of governance and harsh conditions of living which make the citizens look for shortcuts in order to have their agendas pushed forward, I disagree. I personally took up a ‘pay no bribe’ policy which I consider a positive step towards improving our economy. What if all citizens did the same? If we all agreed to never pay a bribe, then how would these gov’t officials we blame receive the bribes? More so, if we used our role as voters to efficiently evict those deemed to be corrupt, how would they get access to the funds we blame them for embezzling? If we used our rights as citizens to demand accountability for the taxes we pay, and punishments to those who fail to account, wouldn’t we have contributed a lot to the safeguarding of our funds? There have been reported cases where the citizens’ cries at the injustice committed by police and that issued by the courts of law have been reversed. Invoking our natural rights is therefore within our means. The MP’s we voted into power are also there to ensure that they provide an oversight role in gov’t expenditure. They are our representatives and if we are not satisfied about their performance in executing their duties, then we should be in position to tell them when they come back to their areas. If they are ‘big-headed’, then the alternative is giving them a vote of no confidence or voting them out of power at the next election.
2. A weak system: By system, I mean the laws in place to enable public officials account for the funds they receive and failure to do so, the means through which they can be prosecuted. This includes the implementors of these laws i.e Executive, IGG, Parliament, Courts of law e.t.c. We have the laws in place to fight graft but do we have the will from the officials mandated to perform their oversight and prosecutory roles? Recently, we saw the President begging MP’s to pardon those who were implicated in a recent scandal. Does this show will from above? I agree that 100% transparency is impossible to achieve but the hidden part should be in the interests of the nation and not individual interests.
3. The corrupt officials: If we were to come up with a list showing the number of gov’t officials implicated or suspected to have been involved in scams that caused losses to the country, I guess the list would be endless. Question is; Why do those implicated in scandals still go ahead to maintain their ministerial positions? Why do they go ahead to be appointed at later dates to these big offices? When a corrupt official is appointed to a gov’t office, then that should automatically make that appointing authority corrupt too. We should keep our eyes open to what is happening all over our country. A censure and vote of no confidence is within our means. 2016 is also a year when we can express our gratitude or disappointment at the performance of these leaders.
So, how can this unpatriotic vice be terminated? The first thing we should all know is that the power lies in the votes we give during polls. My friend on twitter stated that if the votes were 90% against a candidate (whether incumbent or not), wouldn’t that be clear at the announcing of the results, or even before official results are announced by the EC? If you talk of rigging, power lies with the citizens according to the constitution! All you have to do is compile evidence (proof of your allegations in form of pictures, video footage, sound recordings, witnesses e.t.c) and head to the Courts of Law. We have had cases where Courts have overturned an election result and ordered a re-election. Whatever excuse you may give to facilitate vote rigging, I say there is always a way votes can be protected and the truth comes out.
Similarly, we need ‘above’ to be willing to fight members of executive who are involved in this horrible practice. The president should cease involving himself with any of these members till they have been cleared by the relevant authorities. That puts in place a question about how independent and honest these authorities are. Will we be sure that they are facing no intimidation & obstruction of their investigations by the senior members of the executive? This allegation has been raised on several occasions and the Court of public opinion has always made it’s own judgement when that given by the Courts of Law has seemed to be against the commonly known ‘facts’. Therefore, the trust in our judiciary system must be reinforced otherwise the misconception that it holds a fair judgement for only the rich will keep on widely being spread and believed.
Let me quote the Constitution of Uganda; In the National objectives and directive principles of state police XXVI Accountability (ii) & (iii) respectively state that “All persons placed in positions of leadership shall in their work be answerable to the people” and “All lawful measures shall be taken to expose, combat and eradicate corruption and abuse or misuse of power by those holding political and other public offices”
The story of the Principal Accountant in the Prime Minister’s office is still unfolding before our very own eyes but we all know that something sinister is going on. Quoting Red Pepper “With Musana, Kazinda led the detectives down his 101-roomed house. The detectives are obviously humbled and awed by the imposing structure. Occupying only two huge rooms including a master bedroom on the first floor, Kazinda keeps most of the house’s room closed“. Read full story from this link http://redpepper.co.ug/welcome/?p=41415 about how he was arrested or view the story on NTV Uganda (You tube) at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgZ733WkhZg&feature=player_embedded
The most important of all is the citizens. All citizens must be aware of performance measurement indicators to use in assessment of their leaders performance. We ensure that our neighbours, relatives, friends, village-mates and any other people are aware of the specifications to use in gauging the performance of their leaders. That way, we’ll be rest assured that all voting is done from a well-informed point of view which is not characterized by bribery or gifts to induce votes.
Like I always tell my friends, let’s all contribute to the development of our country by being helpful in any possible way as we realize that corruption is very dangerous to our economy (See http://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/Corruption.html for the UNODC South Eastern Europe on Corruption)
For God and my country
@jobaze (on twitter)
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