Monday, November 30, 2009

Show us the political will, we shall show you a corrupt free nation!

I have carefully read Dr James Nsaba Buturo’s article, ‘Fighting corruption: Can the war be won?’ that appeared in The New Vision of November,30th 2009. The ethics minister calls for a collective responsibility in the fight against corruption. He further goes ahead to affirm to the readers that government,(NRM) has the will to fight corruption by citing some of the achievements(legislation and institutional framework) to qualify his argument that will indeed political will exists.

True, Uganda boasts of one of the best legislative and institutional framework against corruption. However, the question whether it is effective or not is another debate as well. The old question of whether good laws make good men rather than the other way round still lingers.

By contrast to our neighboring country, Rwanda or Botswana in the South the legislative and institutional framework is still nascent and ironically the little that there is in Rwanda or Botswana in terms of legislation and institutions, is modeled on Uganda’s structures. I don’t have to mention which country is performing better in regard to the fight against corruption. The point is that whereas Uganda uses an institutional/legislative model, Rwanda and Botswana are using the political will model as a vehicle to enforce the law.

And this is where I disagree with Dr Buturo, that the NRM government has political will to fight corruption is something he himself knows need no debate. How many commissions of inquiry have been conducted with deliberate recommendations only to be shelved? We have all witnessed issues of national concern become politicized dividing the Parliament along political lines hence losing objectivity. Even when the evidence is overwhelming! Why should we have certain individuals serve in the cabinet even after falling from their grace? What about censured Ministers who are recycled?

Where then is the political will in all this mayhem; Junk helicopters, Congo looting scandal, National ID scandal, NSSF –Temangalo scandal, Northern bypass shoddy work, now the CHOGM scandals ad nauseam?

I would love to see the same level of enthusiasm, commitment and above all political will that was exercised on the land bill taking shape in corruption fight. The Head of State, by powers vested unto him should exercise political will by bringing to book the culprits without fear or favour.And this is all the public is asking and to state as Dr Buturo says that the will should come from citizens is like stating that wagons should pull an engine. And by the way, sometimes it happens but only for other reasons leading to capsizing of the whole train!.

Dr Buturo, the public is tired of seeing the looters walk free, basking in glory and looting again without butting an eye. Much as it is a collective responsibility to fight corruption, some players are not doing their work and the public has at least tried. All it needs is motivation from the government in form of punitive measures to the corrupt. In the HIV campaign for example, who was the leader? Where was the commitment coming from and what are the results?

Otherwise we shall continue to boast of an elaborative institutional and legal framework that only massages the real problem! Let us face it, there is no leadership in the Anti Corruption struggle and to suggest so is a hallucination. Let us simply wake up or at least shut up- only then can we attract sympathy that we as a nation no longer deserve.

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