The Independent (Kampala)

11 November 2012

Uganda: From Corruption to Organised Crime

Anti corruption activists are expected on the streets tomorrow to protest their dissatisfaction of how alleged corruption cases are handled.The most ... ( Resource: Corruption Activists Mourn Laxity of Law in Uganda

opinion

President Museveni's earlier tolerance for corruption allowed the vice to mature:

For many years, the public has endured increasing levels of corruptions in Uganda. By international standards, Uganda has one of the most elaborate anti-corruption laws but this has not deterred corruption. This article reiterates that corruption is the very function of the NRM regime but distinguishes old forms of corrupt practices from organised crime that has transformed Uganda into modern day Gomorrah, the biblical city destroyed by God because its deviance.

The 2009 Anti-Corruption law may as well have become an instrument not worth the paper on which it was written. Corruption is widely defined to include the tolerance or acceptance of influence, let it be material, monetary or otherwise, for personal gratification, that may lead to acts of or omission of the duty for which one is an authority (Anti-corruption Act 2009 Part II: 2(A)(a-i).

Most Ugandans know the simple, basic and functional definition of corruption, as "the lack of opportunity for have-nots". In this sense, most Ugandans look at those with money, power and guns as those who are corrupt. The 2009 Anti-corruption Act does not describe moral corruption, an aspect that makes corruption pervasive in our society. To an extent, corruption has become a sub-culture in every society.

This article argues that Ugandan's problem is no longer corruption but organised economic crime. Corruption has transformed itself from the infinite to the finite and it manifests in every walk of life. It embodies the very opposites of what society should be. The government which should act as mediator for distribution of public good, under the influence of corruption, has become the agent provocateur of widespread inequalities. Ugandans no longer experience the life of sanity; they thrive under insanity like it was in Gomorrah. Uganda has become a state equal in stature and character as the Biblical Gomorrah with some components of "Sodom" in it!

Every day one opens the online version of the Ugandan dailies; there must be a stunning revelation about new acts of embezzlement. Each story which appears on the subject outcompetes the previous one in the amounts and the sophistication of robbery of taxpayer's money. Corruption has now grown to full maturity and has become organised crime. What we read now in the media about Pension scam, in the Office of the Prime Minister billions siphoned off through networks of technocrats and others, have in character outcompeted what we knew already in Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) and Global Fund, which in turn, had out-competed previous scams involving government agents.

So, how did we get to this point and where are we headed? The transformation of what would have passed as sheer negligence of duty into fully blown corruption was facilitated by the NRM ideologies.

In the early 90s when Parliament fought corruption, President Yoweri Museveni complained that Parliament was on vendetta against his ministers and his economic plans. His cadres went on radio to argue that the rampant corruption acts were indicators of economic growth. The establishment treated anti-corruption agencies, groups and experts as enemies of the state and members of the opposition who were inclined at diverting their revolution's pathways.

Not long after that, the men who came broke from the Bushes of Luwero started appearing in the media for wealth accumulation as super rich. All of the NRM top cadres and so-called "governors of state affairs" had embarked on primitive accumulation of wealth at the expense of the so-called liberated. Through their wealth, they were certain that they had enough to procure significant portion of the public will to govern.

In combination with the use of state instruments of coercion to secure the rest of they will, they became too insensitive, arrogant and indifferent to the plight of the ordinary Ugandans. Assured of their strength, they returned Uganda to multi-party elective politics. Ever since then, corruption and coercion have become the two most famed methods of securing tenure for the President and his henchmen.

Today, this corruption has entrenched its roots into the very soul of the system like the grasp of the weed called Wondering-Jew. Because, at the nucleus of this organised crime is situated the Ugandan political class as enablers and profiteers. This is also the reason that Museveni may be an astute tactician in guerilla warfare, but the war on corruption is one which he cannot defeat without self-capitulation. President Museveni has tolerated corruption for so many years as a beneficiary, whether directly or indirectly. After all, the most corrupt people are members of the ruling elite or of the First Family.

Morris Komakech is a social critic and political analyst based in Canada. Can contact via

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