The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Mrs Janet Museveni, has said the ﬁght against corruption should not concentrate only in government ofﬁces. Instead, she said, it should go down into the fabric of our society, starting right from the family level, with parents bringing up children who are comfortable living with what they have and scared of taking and owning anything that is not rightfully theirs.
"We must know that we have a duty as parents, as leaders, as teachers and as pastors in churches to teach, to show examples and to talk about these things honestly and tell people that if they are not scared to take away anything that is not theirs, and own it and give it to their children, they are cursing their own families," she said.
The First Lady made the remarks while launching activities to commemorate the 2020 International Anti-Corruption Day and the Ambassadors for Integrity campaign, which promotes individual and collective action to combat corruption in Uganda.
The function held on Wednesday at State House, Entebbe, was organised by the Inspectorate of Government, in partnership with the Global Leadership Summit. It was attended by heads of anti-corruption agencies (Inspectorate of Government, Ofﬁ ce of the Auditor General, Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority, Directorate of Ethics and Integrity and State House Anti-Corruption Unit) and representatives from the Justice, Law and Order Sector, the Inter-Religious Council, the Global Leadership Summit and GIZ.
The First Lady pointed out that corruption is at all levels of our society, with people very tolerant, kind and sympathetic to those who are corrupt and, therefore, the theme for this year's campaign, Promoting Social Accountability through active Citizenry, is good because it puts the responsibility squarely on all the citizens.
She said Uganda is confronted with the evil of corruption, which is eating at the very fabric of the nation and that with every corrupt action, Ugandans deny themselves the assurance of quality life and dignity because corruption undermines efforts of Government, families or the Church, to build and develop transformed lives or a nation in which everyone could enjoy equal access to programmes and better quality service delivery.
Mrs Museveni attributed the failure to make headway in the ﬁght against corruption to individuals, the Church, Government and the community, who sometimes fail to look at themselves and instead look at corruption as a problem from one side.
"But if we accept that this is our country's problem and that we all need to confront it, we may, in the end, ﬁnd a breakthrough," she added.
Mrs Museveni pointed out that the third National Development Plan (NDP III) recognises that corruption is one of the key obstacles to Uganda's development and emphasises the greater need for citizens' engagement, which is highlighted under the community mobilisation and mindset change programme. Therefore, the need for citizens' involvement is not only in ﬁghting against corruption but in actual nation-building and it is important to help all our people to be serious about ethical conduct across the board.
She called upon Ugandans to reﬂect on the time in the nation's history when people lived in a society whose foundations were embedded by our forefathers in a culture of uprightness and integrity; morals that cut across all people groups in Uganda; or what is today referred to as the concept of ubuntu.
The First Lady said those cultural values were taught in families, where children were brought up knowing that being well-mannered, hospitable and honest while embracing a spirit of "caring for the interests" of others is central to human relations and societal co-existence. But, sadly, these values were lost as families began to focus more on a spirit of "self-centred survival" at the expense of the common good of living together in harmony.
"Today, we live in a world where "the end justiﬁes the means" concept has become an acceptable school of thought for many people. Every time an individual commits an act of dishonesty, they convince themselves that they have a perfectly valid reason why the end justiﬁes their lack of integrity. And, over time, such wrong behaviour has become the norm, both in our private and corporate lives. That is corruption," she said.
Mrs Museveni, who is the national champion for the Ambassadors for Integrity Campaign, said the campaign, which is hinged on six values, namely; stewardship, work ethic, integrity, patriotism, excellence and servant leadership, transcends the conventional punitive approach to combating corruption and refocuses the ﬁght on prevention.
She added that in this approach, the Government enlists the partnership and active participation of the citizens.
Mrs Museveni appealed to every Ugandan, young and old, to own this noble cause and to identify with it.
The campaign will be carried forward in schools, institutions of higher learning, the Judiciary, public service, civil society, media and among religious leaders at every level of society, through a partnership between government accountability agencies and the Global Leadership Summit Uganda.
She also urged leaders to live a life of integrity, saying: "We will not win the ﬁght against corruption by simply talking about it. The change must begin with us, we have to become the change that we want to see in our nation."
The Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity, the Rev. Father Simon Lokodo, said eradicating moral decadence and corruption is a collective responsibility and that concerted efforts of all people are required to stop moral decay in society.
The Deputy IGG, Mariam Wangadya, explained that the International Anti-Corruption Day is a time for Government, political leaders, lobby and interest groups and the public to collaborate against corruption by reﬂecting on its evils and seeking consensus on measures to ﬁght it.
She said Uganda signed and ratiﬁed the UN Convention against Corruption and the AU Convention on preventing and combating corruption and that for over a decade, anti-corruption groups, organisations and individual actors in the country have remodelled the anti-corruption day into a series of annual multi-activity advocacy events called the Anti-Corruption Campaign.
The campaign events climax on the International Anti-Corruption Day, designated for December 9, every year, usually with a public dialogue, which may not be possible this year due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.