When grand corruption is unearthed and the perpetrators escape justice, the citizens are dispirited because our society is striving to defeat the very laws that should regulate us.
FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
By Christine. B. Ayebazibwe
While listening to the State of the Nation Address by President Museveni, a few things stood out but none bothered me like the open cynicism of the Office of the Inspectorate of Government. Because of his disappointment with the office of the IG, the President went ahead and formed a new anti-corruption Unit in State House, with the same mandate as the IG.
It is true corruption in Uganda is on the rise in spite the institutional and strengthened legal framework in place to fight the vice, and we cannot just wish the vice away, we must work hard enough to eliminate it. The first step should be examining the cause of the problem.
The Inspector General of Government was quoted in one local daily of Friday, June 8, 2018, explaining the challenges faced by her office in execution of her mandate and one of these, which is perhaps the biggest is that corrupt government officials hide behind the back of the President. She went on to say that their connection to the Head of State has seen them escape justice.
The public apathy towards corruption stems from such situations. When grand corruption is unearthed and the perpetrators escape justice, the citizens are dispirited because our society is striving to defeat the very laws that should regulate us.
The office of the Inspectorate of Government regularly submits performance reports to Parliament, a requirement under Article 231 of the Constitution of Uganda.
In the Bi-Annual Inspectorate of Government Performance Report to Parliament, January-June 2017, the IG highlights challenges to execution of their mandate like delays in the judicial process due to transfer of judicial officers and continuous adjournments, and the increasing cost of rent.
Acquisition of their own office premises is expected to cost sh90bb, of which sh1b is already spent and sh33b is required in FY 2017/18.
The functionality of the new anti-corruption Unit will undoubtedly be reliant on funds from the taxpayer as well to cater for rent or acquisition of office premises, staff salaries and most likely, more staffing inter alia to duplicate the mandate of the IG. The challenges faced by the office of the IG are not personal in nature but rather institutional and, in fact some of them are beyond the control of the institution.
In light of the above, creating a parallel Unit to fight corruption is like cutting a problem tree at the trunk and hoping it will not grow back. We must confront the problem from the root if we are to make any impact.
It is imperative that we follow through the basic procedures and processes to contribute to better service delivery outcomes. In the present circumstances the tenets of good governance demand that an institution which is not functioning as expected is evaluated to verify the causes of non-performance and in consultation with other key stakeholders like Parliament to whom the IG reports, appropriate measures are taken.
The fight against corruption requires teamwork not disjointed efforts. The President should instead consider allocating the staff of the new Unit to the IG as reinforcement to strengthen the institution’s ability to function effectively.
Otherwise, if the new anti-corruption Unit is later faced with similar challenges like highly placed corrupt officials using their connection to the President to evade justice, shall we then institute another Unit?
The fight against corruption begins with individual discipline. Ugandans must make effort to reject corruption if we are to eliminate it from our society – “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
The writer works with the Uganda Debt Network