Thursday, August 16, 2012

Types and forms of corruption in Uganda

There are generally three categories of corruption according to the Inspectorate of Government’s operational manual and various definitions on how corruption manifests itself in different forms. These major ones according to the Inspectorate of Government Operation Manual, 2006 and National Integrity Surveys of 2003 and 2008 are defined as below:

1.1 Grand and petty corruption:
Corruption can be high level (grand) or low level (petty). Grand corruption involves theft of vast amounts of public resources or an act involving a high ranking individual who attracts a lot of public interest. This type of corruption is experienced, for example, in tender and contract awards in the construction and mining industries, and in public procurement, where large amounts of money are involved and where there is unchecked exercise of discretion by office-holders. The other type such as petty or survival corruption is practiced by poorly paid public servants. Low-level corruption is prevalent in public service delivery sectors such as health clinics, obtaining business or driving licenses, police roadblocks, and customs or immigration counters.

In Uganda, Grand corruption involves theft of vast amounts of public resources and it applies to acts of corruption involving Uganda Shillings 20 Million or more. On the other hand any act involving a high ranking individual who attracts a lot of public interest is also considered as grand irrespective of the amount involved.

One of the sons of an East African Revivalist named Dr. Muniini Mulera observes thus on NRM’s challenge on grand and petty corruption: ‘…The greatest failure of Museveni in his 26 years as president has been his refusal to apply zero tolerance of corruption and abuse of office. He presides over a regime that will swiftly catch and punish small time thieves while protecting big time thieves who loot millions of dollars from the taxpayers. It is a regime that gives new meaning to the old capitalist slogan of “too big to fail.” In Museveni’s Uganda, you better steal big if you do not want to get caught or go to jail. This NRM version of a kleptocracy traces its beginnings to the tolerance of “minor” corruption that became evident in the “bush years” and the early days of the “fundamental change”. That fundamental change, of course, gave birth to a regime of men and women with stolen wealth even as the vast majority of the citizens became poorer and were denied basic social services…’

The Church also condemns both acts without giving obvious levels in terms of quantities. Sin is treated as sin in disregard to the amounts involved. Jesus extends this ethic to even a temptation to hoard things on earth and worry about what to eat as immoral (Matthew 6). Coveting is also a sin against God and clearly the law.

1.2.2 Political and corporate/Business:
It is also categorized into political, corporate and even moral corruption. In whatever way you look at it, corruption has an element of moral breakdown; the corrupt ignore acceptable practice and put their needs above the needs of the public. Political declarations that affect the economy are in this category. For example, political expedience that include giving away of national assets like Land and Natural resources, declarations to create districts during campaigns, bribery through envelopes and supplies for votes are in these categories. Sometimes acts like giving away resources for political gain are in this category. Business deals are also premised on this category especially if they are connected to political financing. In developing world countries like Uganda political actions are related to misuse or abuse of special privileges for politicians. The Church especially in Kampala is located where the Political and Business powerful are. This is therefore both an opportunity and a threat.

1.3 Systematic and Unsystematic corruption
This is when the perpetuators are either organized into cartels or just act in systematic way as individual persons or groups to demand, extort or commit corrupt practice. A case in point is when there is deployment of civil servants in one area and after the end of the day they report to the In-charge with the loot for sharing. The IGG reports that new forms of corruption have emerged, with ‘Syndicate Corruption’ and ‘Management by Crisis’ the most prominent. The former involves networks of strategically placed public officials who connive to embezzle public funds with impunity, and the latter involves deliberate delays in planning in order for public officials to create a crisis and an excuse to stampede the procurement process.

Unsystematic or disorganized corruption on the other hand is neither predictable nor organized and is where individuals randomly seek for bribes and may not necessarily meet to share at the end of the day or a certain period of time. In the Church of Uganda today and indeed Kampala Diocese there is no literature to determine who is involved in what type of corruption. Prophet Isaiah 5:8-9 warns against the corrupt benefits irrespective of how they are obtained thus:’ Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! In mine ears said the LORD of hosts of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.

2.0 Manifestation and forms of corruption in Uganda:

Corruption manifests itself in different forms. For example, the Nature of Complaints Received during the period July – December 2010 included Abuse of office (199) 19.1% ; Forgery and Uttering false Documents (61) 5.9%, Embezzlement (31) 3.0%, Bribery (29) 2.8%, Misappropriation of Public Resources (21) 2.0%, Conflict of Interest (20) 1.9%, Corruption (19) 1.8% , False Claims (15) 1.4%, Audit queries 14 1.3% and Extortion (7) 0.7%. These major ones according to the Inspectorate of Government are defined as below:

The first form is embezzlement which is an act of dishonestly taking or using resources by persons entrusted with authority and control over those resources. It is theft of public resources (softened by calling it “misappropriation of funds”). Embezzlement was created by the English legislature, which designated specific persons who might be liable for the offense . These were essentially persons entrusted with another's property, such as agents, attorneys, bankers, and corporate officers. The English definition of the offense is followed in the United States. Statutes do not usually list the persons who might be liable but, instead, generally describe the offender as a person entrusted with, or in possession of, another's property.

The other form is bribery and extortion where a promise, offer or giving of any benefit that improperly affects the actions or decisions of a public official. A bribe may be money, inside information, gifts, entertainment, sexual or other favours, a job, company shares, etc. Extortion on the other hand happens when the duty bearers demand any form of gratification from right holders before offering services.

Other forms include nepotism which is an act of giving unfair consideration to family members and/or relatives for appointment to the public service, award of contracts from public resources and the benefit resources at the expense of other members of the public. Cronyism (favoring friends) and patronage (favouring supporters) closely relate to this. Many public offices are filled with relatives, friends and in-laws.
Related to this is influence peddling which takes place when participation by public officials – in the course of their official work – in a decision in which they have private interest or from which they stand to gain indirectly or directly. Many procurement decisions in Uganda are based on decisions taken outside the Board rooms through peddling.

Fraud is deliberate deception and this is usually through forgery. It is any dishonest behavior by which a person or a group of people with intends to gain a dishonest advantage over another and is therefore an act of deception resulting in injury to another. In most countries and history, fraud has been criminalized and is therefore a violation of the law in respect of which the state can impose a punishment.

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