Uganda — The cost of corrution is enormous. According to the 2005 World Bank survey, Uganda loses an estimated sh510b a year through corruption, while the Global Integrity Report of 2006 put the figure at about sh1 trillion, which was about half of the annual budget then.
Many don't see how we can win the fight against an organised corrupt system. But John Masaba asks experts what the country should do.
Professor Augustus Nuwagaba,
Department of social works/population and poverty, Makerere University
We should make corruption a high-risk venture so that those who steal are paid back with ridicule, instead of glory. Today, people who boast of high integrity and honesty are perceived as non-starters.
Uganda should pick a leaf from Singapore, which has taken a high-handed approach to corruption and reaped tremendous benefits from its action.
Hajji Mutumba Nsereko,
Spokesperson of Uganda Muslim Supreme Council
Religious leaders should work harder, reach out to the people and tell them that corruption is robbery. We should use the prophet's teaching: "Love thy neighbour as you love thyself".
If you steal public money, you are not only making government delivery of services difficult, but also denying others what is due to them.
Former Prime Minister of Uganda
Corruption is rampant everywhere and there is nothing we can do about it. If it has not stopped elsewhere, why do you think Uganda can stop it? Corruption started in the Bible, with Jacob fraudulently getting Esau's blessing.
And in Uganda, it is our custom. Why else would crowds gather at Entebbe to welcome a thief convicted for possessing counterfeit dollars in the US?
Executive director, Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda
We have good anti-corruption laws and policies, but we are not getting anywhere with them. Our leaders are not implementing the laws we have. And what are the people doing?
They should rise up and take action on the corrupt officials at the districts and municipalities. This will put pressure on those in higher offices. If a sustained fight against corruption builds momentum at the lower level, we shall see change at the top.
The public should know that fighting corruption is not the responsibility of the Government alone, but for us all. Some parents are not afraid to lie in the presence of children. Pupils campaigning for elections in schools give sweets for votes, nurturing corruption in them.
When they grow, the sweets turn into money and later, big money and other favours. Before you know it, a corrupt leader has been raised.
Justice Irene Mulyagonja,
Inspector General of Government
There is increased exposure and awareness about corruption in the country. When the society is more aware, it may seem like corruption is increasing.
The Inspectorate of Government will continue tracking public officials found to be engaging in corrupt acts. We shall use the existing legal framework, such as the IGG Act, the Anti-corruption Act and the Leadership Code.
There is currently no new strategy, other than emphasising focus and direction in some of the already existing areas. With the development of the Annual Report on Tracking Corruption Trends, using the Data Tracking Mechanism, I will study the trends of corruption in the country.
Over the years, I will be able to indicate which sectors of government are more corrupt. The current challenge, however, is that the available statistics still cannot give the trend of corruption holistically.
The citizens should be sensitised not to accept corruption as a norm. We should improve the living conditions of people providing critical services like the Police, health workers and magistrates.
A number of studies have recommended salary reviews, but not much has been done. Also, the civil society should come up with tangible solutions and interventions, rather than rhetorical condemnation.
Religious and political leaders should address the moral decadence and consumptive behaviour in society today.
Former integrity minister
The answer lies in changing top leadership. Even if you bring good people to work under this system, they will change nothing. Asking NRM to stop corruption is like asking rhinos to give you ghee.
Corruption is the engine that drives this Government because the top leadership is greedy and selfish.
Former Deputy IGG (1989-1992)
The current political system has to change because it breeds corruption. The country needs a new breed of leaders. Even if the Government creates more departments to fight graft, I do not think anything will change.
Jack Wamai Wamanga,
MP & member of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC)
There is no political will in Uganda to fight corruption. In countries like Malaysia and China, the guilty are killed by firing squad. In the neighbouring Rwanda, their president has a no-nonsense stance.
But here, we protect thieves, instead of prosecuting them. In PAC, we are always investigating and making recommendations against corrupt officials, but no action is taken.
We should confiscate what the culprit has stolen and this money should be brought back to the Government coffers.
John Ken Lukyamuzi,
Leader of Conservative Party and MP Lubanga South
We should return term limits. When a regime is in power for not more than 10 years, it is difficult for corruption to thrive. In addition, the executive should implement the available anti-corruption laws to make life difficult for the corrupt.
The opposition should be tougher, to make the Government more accountable. I know some public servants are committed to fighting corruption, but the gap between the highest and lowest paid public servants is high.
This gap must also be reduced to create equity.
Rev. Fr. Simon Lokodo,
Minister for Ethics and Integrity
We need to check on the integrity of our service providers in our offices and get them to be more patriotic. We should also see to it that they are satisfied in their jobs.
We should begin by enhancing salaries of holders of public offices, especially those who work under tempting situations. We also need to strengthen the anti-corruption laws, they are not prohibitive enough.
Retired anglican bishop
Corruption in Uganda is a leadership problem. It requires political solutions. The President should not fear to disappoint some of his friends by throwing them out when they are embellished with corruption.
Only in Uganda do ministers steal millions of public money and still be eligible for reappointment. This makes the thieves heroes and inspires others to steal even more.
Corruption should be made a risky business by making thieves pay heavily to deter others. I also think the media can play a role by blacklisting all corrupt politicians. The communities whose leaders are involved in corruption should also push them out of power.
Pastor Alex Mitala,
Chairman of the Born-again Pentecostal churches
We have not done enough in preaching against corruption in this country. We should check on what we preach and how we do it. Uganda has 80% Christians, how can we be number one in corruption?
Preachers in the past succeeded with a message of repentance and many people turned away from their sins. Are we just spreading religion without convincing people to repent?
Does everyone know what to do? Isn't it about time they joined the fight?