By Basalirwa Kalema Frank
Transparency International recently released its 2013 report on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) which revealed that Uganda’s score has declined since last year, standing at 26 out of 100 (with 100 being the least corrupt) and was 140th position out of 177 countries.
This indicates that citizens believe that the incidence of corruption has increased, given that last year Uganda’s CPI score was 29 out of 100 and in 130th position out of 176 countries.
In Uganda, it will take a long time to realise tangible impact in the fight against corruption unless everybody realises that we all have a duty to fight graft right from our homes and backyards.
It is also misleading to think that corruption is only practiced by the service providers and yet the beneficiaries themselves abet corruption. Cases abound where those caught committing traffic offences while driving are flagged down by Police, only to begin offering bribes to the Police officers even before they are charged.
In other instances, people urgently seeking to process travel documents are seen trying to bribe officers to be attended to “faster” than other clients in the queue. Recently, an interesting case was witnessed in Namutumba District, in Kavule village in Ivukula sub-county where a blind persons group was manipulated by a Community Development Officer.
Noticing the group’s desperate efforts to acquire financial assistance to facilitate the groups development projects, the Community Development Officer initially offered to help out as a “good Samaritan” but half way through asked for some “professional fees” from the Bugwe Disabled Group members, who had to painfully part with a percentage of the grant they had just received to pay this officer.
In actual sense, however, guiding such groups and individuals is a Community Development Officers professional duty, which clients ought not to pay for.
Such incidences where less privileged citizens are forced to part with money to access basic social services indicates how deep the corruption cancer has eaten into the moral fabric of our nation.
Unless all stakeholders realise that we all have a collective responsibility and an active role to play in fighting corruption, we will not root out corruption and its negative repercussions from our midst.
Service providers must exercise due diligence and uphold professional ethics and integrity during the execution of their duties given that they hold their positions in the interest of the public. Beneficiaries on the other hand must be bold enough to resist the temptation to compromise and bow to pressures of greedy and manipulative service providers, by having zero tolerance for all forms of corrupt behaviour.
As we commemorate the International anti-corruption day this week, let us all exercise patriotism and love for our country by choosing to say No! to corruption and not to wade in the murky waters of graft.
Only then shall we reap from the benefits of sustainable economic growth and transformation for years to come.
The writer is the District Chairperson, Community Based Monitoring and Evaluation System in Namutumba District