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“We need political will to tackle corruption”
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“We need political will to tackle corruption”

Recently, Uganda’s media was awash with a bribery story involving top government officials. Badru Walusansa, 26, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Kampala in Uganda, argues the story underlines the need for nation-wide commitment to fight corruption.

The scandal happened after President Museveni had declared war against all corrupt bureaucrats in his government, and near the same time the President applauded his counterpart John Pombe Magufuli’s methods of fighting corruption. The President promised to do the same, however, many have regarded his promise as purely cosmetic and unrealistic, arguing that he has always handled the corrupt with soft gloves.

Corruption remains an obstacle to Uganda’s development gains. The country ranked 151st out of 179 countries in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) annual report conducted by Transparency International in 2016. That score is a drop of 12 places from its 139th position in the 2015 Transparency International report.

Uganda is experiencing a new wave of organised, grand and syndicated corruption tendencies at the expense of tax payers’ money. Although Uganda has strong laws and politics on corruption, application of such laws is selective and tends to catch up with the small fish, who are often less influential and have no political connections.

By implication, the poor, vulnerable and marginalised continue to be disproportionately affected by corruption in almost every sector that hinges on their well-being. For instance, there is a child who fails to attain an education because of corruption in the education sector, a patient in a rural health centre dies every day because of embezzlement of medicines under the health sector, and passengers risk their lives as a result of the driver paying a bribe to traffic officer to get away with a traffic offence.

Additionally, corruption in Uganda has become an acceptable norm, where the public thinks that without it things cannot get done. The growing culture of corruption in Uganda has not spared the youth either. The Uganda Youth Survey Report (2016) revealed that a significant proportion of youth believe corruption is profitable, would take or give a bribe and would not pay taxes on earned income. It is of concern that these are the future leaders of tomorrow, who appear likely to take on the corruption baton from the corrupt among current government officials.

President Museveni has often decried government officials who take bribes from investors, and as a result constrain investment opportunities. However, he has  not shown equal willingness to deal with those found culpable of corrupt acts. The top leadership must exhibit willingness in the fight against corruption if we are to uproot the vice.

The government needs to empower both state and non-state actors who are working against corruption. Selective application of laws should end, and the fight against corruption should be championed by the top leadership so that the public can appreciate government efforts more than is the case now.

The public needs to be reminded that since corruption affects everyone, fighting it is a national issue that contributes to the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) vision of zero tolerance for corruption. More importantly, ending corruption will mean improved efficient and effective service delivery.

Reach me at badruwalu@gmail.com

photo credit: cali.org Check To Judge via photopin (license)
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About me: I am a human rights activist, academic and writer in the local dailies. I was part of Uganda’s largest election observation group, CEON-Uganda and currently work as a Project Assistant M&E at the Legal Aid Service Providers’ Network (LASPNET). My passion is in writing and I have authored several articles on different topics in the Weekly Observer, Daily Monitor, New Vision and Independent Magazine.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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