The Observer (Kampala)

30 December 2012

Uganda: Let's Foster Respect, Fight Graft, in 2013

editorial

Twelve months ago, 2012 started on a very difficult note with inflation nearly at 30% and electricity supply at an all-time low.

The year has, however, ended on a relatively better note, with inflation back to single-digit figures and the long-awaited Bujagali hydro power dam coming on board to alleviate the energy deficit. With aid cuts set to bite harder as 2013 dawns, the economy remains in dire straits, but the outlook is at least promising if the government can fight corruption, curb its lavish spending habits and pick its priorities right.

But the same can't be said of the political overview. The mysterious death of Butaleja Woman MP, Cerinah Nebanda, has further exposed the shaky ground on which our political system is built with deep suspicion and lack of mutual respect defining the relationship between two of the three key arms of government - the executive and the legislature.

Parliament couldn't trust the executive to conduct an inquiry into the death and the President couldn't trust MPs to conduct a parallel inquiry. The result has been an ugly saga that has seen some MPs arrested and detained beyond the constitutionally permitted 48 hours just because they dared question the government's version of events. Have we now reached a point where disagreement is criminal?

This happening just after Uganda celebrated her 50th independence jubilee shows how far we are from Uhuru! Let 2013 herald more respect and tolerance among arms of government in the interest of peace and harmony in our country. The year 2012 will also be remembered as one during which corruption reached new heights.

Over the last half of the year, the media have been dominated by heartrending news regarding grand theft in the Office of the Prime Minister and the ministry of Public Service in which money meant for northern Uganda reconstruction, and pensions, respectively, was spirited away into greedy individuals' bank accounts.

Credit must go to the police's Criminal Investigations and Intelligence directorate (CIID) for pumping new energy into the fight against corruption. This momentum must not only be maintained in 2013 but even more effort should be made to ensure that stolen money is recovered.

Happy New Year!

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