In Summary

The issue: Corruption .

Our view: Anti-graft institutions should be seen to do more to break the backs of connected individuals who are accused of orchestrating corruption.

Numerous allegations of rot have been reported in several public bodies and ministries in recent times, just as it has been for many years now.

The worry is that the will to investigate these allegations is questionable.
Government institutions and individuals charged with fighting corruption and other forms of abuse, say the Inspectorate of Government (IGG), have been reduced to lamentations and grandstanding amid underfunding and allegations of corruption and collusion in the watchdog institutions themselves.

A quick look at what has been reported and remains unreported at Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), the National Drug Authority (NDA), the ministry of Education, the National Forestry Authority, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), Bank of Uganda, among other entities, is not only worrying but calls for urgent attention.

Thousands of petitions, some of which are in the public domain, have been made to the IGG, for instance. While we recognise the challenges that the Ombudsman faces and the actions it has taken in some cases, we believe that the institution can and should do more to fight institutionalised and individual abuse in different public institutions.

During the State-of-the-Nation address last month, President Museveni questioned the effectiveness of the IGG and even announced the creation of an alternative unit to handle its anti-graft work.

We doubt that the right step is for the President to set up a parallel body to fight corruption if he believes the IGG is not doing enough. The proper thing to do would be to strengthen the IGG and make it more effective.

Public anti-graft institutions should be seen to do more to break the backs of connected individuals who are accused of orchestrating corruption and may sometimes victimise good public servants who act as whistleblowers in corruption cases. It is becoming a standard script for senior public officers accused of corruption and abuse of office to accuse their subordinates of insubordination just because the lower officers have questioned irregularities in their respective dockets.

We, therefore, hope that all actors i.e. citizens, civil society organisations and donors work together to exert pressure on government, and also that the government demonstrates more goodwill in the fight against corruption.

In short, the current picture is that reporting corruption is dangerous. If whatever allegations of corruption and abuse of office that may arise from any public institution were to be expeditiously investigated and culprits brought to book, it is possible that more people in public offices would step up to report corruption.