Thursday, August 16, 2012

Overview of the current situation in Uganda

The government has vigorously implemented its policy of the fight against corruption since 1986. Clearly there has been progress in elimination of overt forms of corruption and criminality; i.e. total no supply (air supply), extortion on road blocks etc. Today the most common forms of corruption manifest themselves covertly. While politicians before 1986 saw local politics as a service to the community, emphasizing the public virtues of honesty, efficiency and impartiality, the post 1986 politicians prefer political clientelism and corruption, from which they receive the particularistic protection they need. Present day politicians have therefore been socialized in reference groups whose morality is the same as that of legal authority . They continue to view their actions as being judged and rewarded according to the criteria of those groups and therefore conform to their norms. Monetary rewards gained through corruption, are in fact enjoyed in a socially satisfying manner if this does not lead to stigmatization by an individual's reference groups.

Uganda is heralded as a country with one of the best legal and regulatory frameworks in Africa. However, the financial hemorrhage reported both in the public media and government reports shows that corruption has been on the increase. This is partly explained by the new trends of corruptions and the challenges that come with globalization and technological advancements, which in turn affect the efficacy of our regulatory and financial systems. It is therefore imperative to regularly review and update the legal framework and financial and accountability systems of the country to cope with the emerging challenges.

At institutional level, the Government has established the office of the Inspector General of Government with constitutional 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 also made independent and given more powers to audit public resources.

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, oversights Committees of Parliament like Public Accounts Committee, Local Government Accounts Committee, Legal Affairs Committee etc, 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 these oversight committees of parliament. The Inspectorate of Government has also been able to investigate and prosecute cases involving senior public officials and ministers and he periodically reports to Parliament.

The robust legal and regulatory frameworks against corruption and Uganda’s successes in poverty reduction have been widely acknowledged. However, because of high levels of corruption, there is a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots as well as regional inequalities. Uganda remains one of the poorest countries in the world with 31% of the population living below the poverty line and a per capita income of around $300 per annum. Sections of society are not benefiting from the available economic opportunities for poverty reduction due to corruption lack of accountability.

The Directorate of Ethics and Integrity is mandated to improve services and enhance accountability, as well being an anchor in ensuring coordination in the fight against corruption in Uganda. This directorate has various roles related to political oversight but despite the legal and institutional framework as well as various declarations committing the Government to fight corruption, corruption has reportedly increased to appalling levels. There is urgent need to establish why this is so. The problem is why Government has not translated all these into action by greater political will to fight corruption. Yet this alarming trend alienates citizenry from supporting the government in power and increases apathy and could potentially lead to rebellion.

The above notwithstanding, there are still challenges in the fight against corruption. The challenges obtain in both investigation and prosecution capacity, which need to be improved, as most of the corruption cases are covert requiring sophistication in investigation. Fighting corruption is a concerted effort of the executive, legislature, the judiciary, media, and civil society .

No comments: