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Lokodo defends sh100b for corruption fight

By Pascal Kwesiga

Added 7th November 2018 12:37 PM

Lokodo intends to rely mainly on the zero tolerance to corruption policy which was approved by Cabinet last week to cure corruption.

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State minister for ethics and integrity Simon Lukodo addressing journalists during a press conference at the Uganda Media Centre. PHOTO: Nancy Nanyonga

Lokodo intends to rely mainly on the zero tolerance to corruption policy which was approved by Cabinet last week to cure corruption.

The country’s motto at the bottom of the Uganda coats of arms; For God and My Country, is visible on the national flag at the extreme end of the press conference room at Uganda Media Centre UMC as ethics minister, Simon Lokodo, Tuesday spoke about ending corruption.

But that motto no longer invokes nationalistic feelings among some Ugandans. Some have crafted a vulgarised version of the motto - For God and My Stomach - in reflection of how unprecedented levels of greed and selfishness that have displaced nationalism.

Over the years, the corruption cancer has been nibbling at that part in people’s hearts where that motto was imprinted. But Lokodo believes that motto together with the hearts can be salvaged, and the corruption cancer, which he admits has reached advanced stage, can be cured.

Lokodo intends to rely mainly on the zero tolerance to corruption policy which was approved by Cabinet last week to cure corruption.

Responding to criticism and comments from journalists that the policy could come to naught and sh117b he needs to implement it might get stolen, the minister said, the fight against corruption, like any other project, requires substantial amounts of money.

“We already have sh106b. We need an additional sh11b to implement this policy for one financial year. Fighting corruption requires money because you have to train people and procure equipment. You need logistics, human resource and build capacity to match the sophisticated nature of the criminals,” Lokodo said at UMC yesterday.

In addition to funding the Inspectorate of Government, the Anti-Corruption Court, the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament, the Auditor General Office and other audits, the Government, each financial year, will be allocating funds to enforce the zero tolerance to corruption policy.

Lokodo said all ministries, departments and agencies, under the new policy, will be required to create units to ostensibly detect and nip corruption in the bud, increasing the cost of fighting corruption with the risk of duplicating services.

“We are going to build synergies and capacities. The units in government institutions will detect and report signs of corruption before corruption can be committed,” the minister said.

He said the money allocated to the fight he will be leading against corruption will, however, be put to good use, adding that the special units will be staffed with investigators, auditors among others. The policy, he said, is also designed to accelerate prosecution of corruption suspects, rebuild a culture of integrity and reinvigorate commitment at the highest levels of Government to fight corruption.

But critics say that the new initiative can only work withpolitical will and independence of (anti-corruption) insitutions.

“I don’t think we need more policies to fight corruption. We already have a robust legal framework and the problem has been implementation. If we do not do that we shall be fighting a losing battle and new institutions will not help,”Cissy Kagaba, the head of the Anti-Corruption Coalition, told New Vision.

The executive director of the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group, Julius Mukunda, said the fear in the anti-corruption activism circles is the possibility of new institutions duplicating services and undermining the already constitutionally established agencies.

“If that money is to be spent on units which do not report to the existing institutions, it will be wasted and there will be no value,” he added.

At the end of one year, Ugandans will surely be eager to scan the performance indicators in reports supplied by Lokodo and his lieutenants to probably gauge if the policy and new institutions it is seeking to create are not another bottomless for the country.

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