New Vision (Kampala)

20 November 2012

Uganda: Society Must Stop Glorifying the Corrupt

opinion

CORRUPTION needs no introduction in Uganda. The media in recent times has been awash with stories of corruption cases that point to a toxic state of affairs.

A few years ago, the World Bank estimated that we lose about $300m (sh777b) per year to corruption. A quick review of the transparency international corruption perception index will reveal that corruption is considered to be 'highly rampant' in Uganda with consistent scores of less than three over the last five years.

The auditor general's annual reports read like fiction novels. The level of theft reported is hard to wrap around one's mind. Corruption has been embedded into the DNA of most Ugandans.

But what can we do to fight it? One of the most common approaches to fighting the vice has been to go down the legal pathway. For instance, enacting laws like the leadership code of conduct Act and the Anti Corruption Act.

While the legal route is appreciated and required, I strongly believe that on its own it is inadequate. The oversight agencies like the Inspectorate of the Government, Auditor General, public procurement and disposal of public assets authority are hampered by financial and human resource constraints and operate in an environment that condones corruption.

The laws and evidential burdens of proof make securing corruption-related convictions an uphill task. The legal approach, therefore, needs to be complimented by other non-legalistic approaches.

I would like to suggest a few:

Society or citizens who are most often the ultimate victims of corruption through, among others non-functional education and health services should speak out against corrupt officials.

Shun any official who is proved or implicated in corruption. The third National Integrity Survey commissioned by the Inspectorate of Government in 2008 established, among others, that society glamorised the corrupt.

There should be a massive mobilisation of shame campaign against the corrupt. Society needs to send a clear message that individuals who siphon money should be considered outcasts.

Elected public officials implicated in corruption should not be re-elected. The corrupt should, therefore, know that the cost of corruption is high.

The writer is the country Director of Global Rights Uganda

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