By Muhanguzi Umar
As Uganda commemorated its 51st Independence celebrations in October 9, a lot of achievements were enumerated in a colourful ceremony in Rukungiri District.
The achievements revolved around political, social and economic transformation. Indeed Uganda has moved many steps forward in terms of growth and development, security and stability, and on the policy of liberalisation, which has enabled citizens to engage in small enterprises in order to improve on their standard of living and quality of life.
Uganda’s economic growth and development is, however, seriously undermined by the cancer of corruption, which has the power to reverse and frustrate any development efforts. At the grassroots community level, corruption poses a serious threat to the development of our communities and is deeply entrenched in every public institution including schools, health centres, Police, courts, among others.
The disappearance of drugs in health centres, rampant ghost teachers and health workers on the Government payroll, absenteeism of workers in public institutions has denied the majority poor a chance to enjoy their rights and freedoms, all of which have deeply entrenched this vice.
Matters are not helped given the high public passiveness in fighting the vice as many citizens appear to have lost hope in the fight while others believe that the levels at which graft stands cannot be reduced.
Notably, the institutions established by the Government to fight the vice including the Inspectorate of Government, Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Police CIID, among others, face critical resource and manpower constraints and their effectiveness is hampered by independence challenges.
Moreover with the suspension of the Anti-corruption Court in July this year, the Inspectorate of Government has had most of its corruption related court cases frozen which leaves questions as to whether there is real will to fight corruption. For example the case of the eight ministry of Public Service officials who are accused of creating ghost names of pensioners, which led to the loss of over sh100b in tax payer’s money, among other corruption-related cases, are now pending.
It is, therefore, imperative that the battle to fight the corruption scourge be taken to the most affected who are the grassroots masses. Citizens must be massively sensitised to connect the dots between corruption and the quality of social service delivery, with the monies lost due to graft translated and equated to how many health centres, medicine stocks, classrooms etc they would have received instead, had these monies not been stolen.
Public officers implicated in corruption should be shunned and isolated at every public function and should never be recognised in public places like wedding ceremonies, churches, mosques etc.
Citizens should put their elected representatives in Parliament to task and hold them accountable to demonstrate how they have promoted prudent public resource expenditure in their constituent’s interests, short of which they should be voted out. Given the prevailing circumstances, only by taking the battle to the people at the grassroots will corruption be kicked out of Uganda once and for all.
The writer is the Coordinator of Western Ankole Anti –corruption coalition