By Francis Kagolo
As unemployment continues to bite, more literate Ugandans are turning to witchcraft to get and secure their jobs, a New Vision survey has revealed.
The survey shows that more people in Kampala use sorcery to get white-collar employment, and to gain favour before their bosses for payrise and promotions.
New Vision interviewed 100 corporate workers, aged between 18 and 45, in and around Kampala. Of the respondents, 57 were males.
Majority (66%) said witchcraft was a common practice at workplaces while 16% were undecided about its prevalence.
Although 17% said witchcraft was not common at workplaces, only 4% strongly believed in what they were saying.
Besides, 60% of the respondents, mostly males, testified that they had either heard or seen signs of witchcraft in their offices.
Of those who saw witchcraft, majority were aged between 18 and 20 years, followed by those in the 41-45 age group and others between 36 and 40 years.
Also, 41% of the respondents said an “average number” of their colleagues in offices depend on witchcraft while 17% said “too many” of their workmates use it. However, some 42% believe “too few” of their workmates use witchcraft to secure their jobs.
About 90% of the respondents reported that people practice witchcraft to seek job promotion while 12% said others use witchcraft to prosper in businesses.
Astonishingly, others use witchcraft either to harm or hurt workmates, besides seeking favour and power at workplaces, as reported by 17% of the interviewees.
According to the Witchcraft Act 1957, practising witchcraft is a crime punished with imprisonment exceeding five years on conviction.
Threatening someone with death by witchcraft attracts life imprisonment on conviction.
However, despite the law barring it, the vice continues unabated across the country because many people are desperate.
The World Bank in its 2008 report said Uganda had the highest youth unemployment rate and the youngest population in the world. It warned that unless
Uganda scales up her efforts to create jobs, the youth would be more involved in crime and armed conflicts.
Another report by the African Development Indicators 2008/2009, which focused on youth and unemployment in Africa, showed that 83% of Ugandan youth are jobless. It is estimated that over 37,000 youth who graduate fail to get employment each year.
No wonder, according to the survey, witchcraft ranked highly alongside hardwork, sexual manipulation, technical know-who, and bribery among the ways people use to get and maintain jobs, gain promotions or get new ones.
The survey was conducted in the first week of April in randomly selected corporate organisations in and around Kampala.
Of the respondents, 61% had bachelor’s degrees, 20% had attained postgraduate training and 17% had secondary school as their highest level of education, while 2% had attended tertiary institutions.
Also, 13% of the respondents were at the level of administrative/ office manager or supervisors in their different organisations, 27% professionals, 9% technicians, 32% casual and only four operational workers.
Majority (62%) had spent between one and five years at their workplaces, 15% had worked between six and 10 years while 12% of them reported having worked between 10 and 25 years.
Respondents also cited witchcraft alongside corruption, nepotism, tribalism and jealousy among workers as the key problems affecting teamwork at workplaces.
Indeed, 60% of the respondents, majority being males, affirmed having been involved or seen workmates involved in discussions to do with witchcraft.
Of these, 20% disclosed that they have been involved in office discussions about witchcraft for more than 10 times, while 41% reported three to 10 times.
Another 36% cited once or twice while only 3% had not taken part in the discussions.
Majority of the respondents (83%), mainly women, said their attitude to work would be affected, though in differing degrees, if they knew that a colleague practises witchcraft.
Asked how the situation is likely to be in at least three years to come, most of the workers (69%) believe the vice will increase in workplaces.
Of these, 45% said witchcraft will “increase a lot” while 24% said the rate of increase will be little.
But 15% don’t expect the rate to change. Only 16% think that witchcraft in workplaces may reduce in the coming three years.
However, the survey discovered that the level of witchcraft in corporate organisations may not be any different from that taking place in small and medium scale enterprises in the country.
Ugandans turn to witchcraft to keep jobs