THE latest Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International shows that corruption is perceived to be worsening in Uganda. Uganda scored 2.5 compared to 2.6 last year. Kenya was worse at 2.1 while Tanzania was better at 2.9.
The survey is no surprise. There is a general feeling that corruption is getting worse in Uganda, not just in the public sector but even in the private sector where executives seem increasingly willing to make something on the side.
Twenty years ago, the NRM came to power promising to eliminate corruption. In the early years, the Movement made great progress in eliminating â€˜air supplyâ€™ and other corrupt practices but in the last decade, there has been slippage.
Many corruption cases have been exposed in the press and elsewhere, from the junk helicopters to the URA, from ghost soldiers to ghost schools, from inflated compensation by the finance ministry to the Global Fund fiasco. But little action has been taken.
A few officials have been sacked, for instance in the Uganda Revenue Authority where the Sebutinde Commission revealed astonishing self-enrichment by junior officers. But virtually no-one has been prosecuted, or if they are, it is a half-hearted affair where inadequate preparation by the state leads to the eventual collapse of the case. More importantly, no wrongdoer has ever been asked to refund the embezzled funds.
The present situation is an open invitation to corruption. The worst case scenario is that you lose you your job but keep the money. The best case scenario is that you escape with a warning and get the opportunity to steal even more.
If Uganda wants to stamp out corruption, there have to be consequences. Government must vigorously prosecute offenders and force them to refund the money they have swindled.
Without this commitment, Uganda will only slip further down the Transparency International rankings.