2.0 The anti corruption policy, legal and institutional framework in Uganda
The Government has vigorously implemented its policy of zero tolerance to corruption since 1986. It has successfully eliminated the more overt forms of corruption and criminality; i.e. air supply, extortion on road blocks etc. Today the most common forms of corruption manifest themselves covertly.
At institutional level, NRM established the office of the Inspector General of Government with powers to investigate, prosecute and recommend administrative action against public officials. The office of the Auditor General, which was formerly a department under the ministry of finance, was made independent and given more powers.
Similarly, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions which was formerly a department within the ministry of justice was made independent of the executive. Furthermore, under NRM, oversight committees of parliament have been empowered to check on the executive.
There are cases where following the Auditor General’s reports, ministers have been made to account for their actions before the oversight committees of parliament. The IGG has also been able to investigate and prosecute cases involving senior public officials and ministers.
Uganda is credited for having a comprehensive and robust legal and institutional framework for accountability and fighting corruption. During the Presidential election campaigns in 2006, the National Resistance Movement pledged zero tolerance to corruption. This was articulated within the NRM Party Manifesto. By implication, the NRM having won the election, the zero tolerance to corruption became a policy of government and was adopted as such.
The second leg of the National Anti Corruption Strategy NACS – The National Strategy to Fight Corruption and Rebuild Ethics and Integrity in Uganda, 2008-2013 was developed and builds on the strategic objectives reiterated below:
a) Effective political leadership in the fight against corruption;
b) Increased public demand for accountability and rejection of corruption;
c) Effective enforcement of anti-corruption measures;
d) Enhanced compliance and accountability by public service organizations;
e) Strengthened implementation of NACS
The government strategy which is coordinated by the Directorate for Ethics and Integrity (DEI) envisions an effective inter-play of and strong synergies among public anti corruption agencies especially those brought together under the Inter Agency Forum (IAF) and the Accountability Sector (AS) as well as with the civil society as a stronger approach against corruption. What then has been or is the problem?
2.2 The anti corruption mileage and the mishap
Despite the government policy, legal and institutional framework strengthening efforts, corruption is still spiraling. The third National Integrity Survey (NIS III), 2008 and other more recent studies and reports such as the Auditor General’s report, the Corruption Perception Index 2010 by Transparency International attest to this. There is no single day that passes without a story of relating to fiscal/financial, political or administrative corruption reported in the local national print or electronic media; mirroring the reality of the situation at the national and sub national levels in the public management and governance arena in Uganda. The simple picture is a reflection of a country bleeding with corruption and deplorable social services. Corruption compromises the quality and scope of service delivery and is no doubt one of the dire bottlenecks to development in Uganda.
The citizens continue to decry the lukewarm political will to fight corruption and majority have chosen to resign from participating in demanding for accountable governance; a significant factor that propels and partly explains the increasing levels of impunity with which corruption is practiced at national and local government level. The citizens are also abetting corruption in as far as the majority of them praise, hail and hold in high esteem the public figures who have amassed wealth through suspect, illicit, and dishonest sources. This is either as a result of massive resignation and civic fatigue or the general erosion of social fabric and morals values.
While there is a reported reduction according to the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) report 2010 with the country score of 2.5, an improvement from 2.8 in 2009, this improvement is too marginal to take pride in.