Friday, August 17, 2012

Coalition building a tool against corruption

by JT
Corruption directly contributes to poverty and inequality. Corruption affects the poor disproportionately, due to their limited power to change the status quo and inability to pay bribes, creating inequalities that violate their human rights. Further, corruption hinders economic development, reduces social services, and diverts investments in infrastructure, institutions and social services. Thus, corruption has a significant negative impact on development and the full enjoyment of legal and human rights.

Uganda is considered as one of the most corrupt countries in the world – faces enormous challenges to fight this entrenched culture of corruption, reduce the soaring inequality and increase its development potential. In an effort to tackle this ingrained culture of corruption in Uganda, formation of a popular Anti Corruption Coalition from a rights-based perspective is a good initiative to promote anti-corruption campaigns aimed at creating a critical mass of citizens that recognize corruptions as an endemic problem, fight corruption at all levels, instil moral values in society and demand respect for legal and human rights.

It is the core assumption that the success of any long-term anti-corruption campaign is ultimately determined by the level of popular support to the course. Hence, it is crucial to anchor the efforts at grass-root level. The momentum – and demand – for anti-corruption initiatives call for separately established structures and hence an assessment of the possibility and feasibility of supporting the creation of anti-corruption coalitions.

Principles of formation of an Anti-Corruption Coalition

There should be internal Zero tolerance principle to corruption and recognition that corruption violates the fundamental rights of citizens and that all citizens have a right to receive public and private services free of corruption as well as free access to accurate public information. Further still, an Anti-Corruption Coalition should acknowledge that corruption affects poor and marginalised the most and undermines their participation in election processes, political decision-making and development activities.

Also an Anti-Corruption Coalition recognizes that internal integrity and accountability within Coalition member organisations as well as within running Secretariat as a Coalition Coordination Unit form the basis of any credible and effective anti-corruption intervention. Promoters should be beyond reproach as the Government will point figures at the leaders in the alternative.

How to Form an Anti-Corruption Coalition?
First of all you identify and select local CBOs in locality that are working in the field of community monitoring, budget tracking, social audit or public awareness creation on legal and human rights, anti-corruption or the roles and responsibilities of local authorities and management of devolved funds. As a principle one of their objectives must link to anti corruption. There needs to be a common vision that brings the members together as a coalition.

Secondly, the coalition needs a limited focus in the start up process. What key focus areas will the coalition target of and how? Social sector thematic approach like in health, education, water are bound to succeed because of popular support. Corruption cases at low level can often be solved locally and be brought to the knowledge of others very quickly for “copy” of best practice. Therefore, to select a manageable focus area and to be able to publish real case stories on corruption is of utmost importance.

Thirdly involve the people who are directly affected by corruption must be involved in the monitoring of their own local facilities such as schools, water or health units. They have to take charge of their own situation and on voluntary basis. Therefore, civic education and information to the general public is very important especially in the beginning (through radio listening, targeted paralegal work shops or public theatre).

Training is vital for change agents and community monitors must be from the community they belong to. They must have e.g. children in local schools or be the users of the local health units. They collaborate with the local people, member organisations and members of the Anti-Corruption Coalition.

Also have a mechanism where corruption cases should be solved at the lowest level possible and preferably without involvement of the Coalition . Corruption cases that cannot be solved at local level must be pushed up the line to keep the trust of the community, who know that something is happening further up. The Anti-Corruption Coalition can arrange interface meetings between the community and the local authorities/devolved funds committees or development committees, or take further action by advocacy campaigns.

Finally the Anti-Corruption Coalition must show to its members, partners and donors what it does and can do. Thus, there is a need to map the CBO membership, the Local Authorities/Committees monitored as well as the health, water or education units. Consequently, CBOs and community monitors can be linked to specific schools, health units or water projects. In that way, local level corruption is kept away by the numerous small organisations, thousands of people/eyes on the ground in the schools, health or water units in the operational area of the Coalition.

Adopted from ACCU, KCPA and MS TCDC Coalition Building notes.

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