Sunday, September 9, 2012

Current challenges in anti-corruption fight in Uganda

1 Delay in the disposal of corruption cases
Establishment of a special division of the High court to handle corruption and to coordinate cases at the High Court to facilitate easy and quick case disposal was a move in the right direction. However, there is still lack of will and commitment on the part of some agencies to enforce and support the framework in place to fight corruption by administering justice and bringing the culprits to book. The longer it takes to prosecute the corruption cases the higher the risk of losing evidence and interest from witnesses. The Judiciary has also been cited for occasioning delays in handling and disposing of reported and investigated corruption cases. Many are concerned that most cases lose track because despite successful investigations the cases keep being referred to future dates.
2 Popularizing of the policy and the enacted laws
Enacting the laws and responsive bills goes by far to show the government’s will to combat corruption. However, there seems to be limited /inadequate popularization of the legislation to give room for the public’s full participation. The public is still not informed about the developments in the legislature especially the Whistle Blowers Act, client charters and the anti-corruption hotlines which would give the public confidence to report the corrupt cases. To date many people believe it is the role of government to combat corruption because they are not informed of their roles and responsibilities as well as their rights.
3 Periodic declaration of incomes, assets and liabilities
Under the Leadership Code Act 2002, leaders are mandated to declare their incomes, assets and liabilities three months after commencement of the Act and for the newly appointed leaders that should be three months after taking the position and thereafter two years periodically. However while declarations have been made to a convincing level, with the existing gaps in verifying and monitoring of public servants’ assets/incomes, this law to curb corruption is constrained by the laxity to empower its enforcement mechanism. Further, efforts to make these verifications will be part of the sectors’ priorities.
4 Poorly enforced laws
Uganda has a systematic anti corruption strategy to deal with combating corruption for instance the Constitution, the IGG Act, Anti corruption Act, the Leadership Code, and the Whistle Blowers Act etc. However, because of the poor enforcement of laws, there is disrespect for rule of law and undermining of the legitimacy of the enforcing authority. There is also lack of proper, fair and consistency implementation of anti-corruption legislation due to political interference. The low level of compliance with sector rules, regulations and standards has been attributed to the lack of information on the service standards, limited monitoring of service delivery; and limited application of sanctions to errant public officials.
5 Poor demand for accountability
The level of public involvement is a key in determining the quality of accountability and Value For Money (VFM) in service delivery which impacts the utilization of public resources in the long run. The Government of Uganda has established financial systems to improve standards of accountability. However, one of the key challenges for the sector is poor culture to demand accountability among Ugandans. Previously, Accountability in Uganda had been pursued from the supply side thus service providers were at liberty to provide any kind of accountability to financiers without citizens’ opinion about the validity of the accountability. This is partly due to the low level of awareness by public about their rights to demand accountability for services delivered to them and limited consciousness amongst citizens. This is further compounded by limited access to required information (financial releases, work plans, progress report etc) at the lower local councils.’ The information deficit currently creates a sense of powerlessness and apathy and prevents people from making the connection between public resources and their right to services and accountability.
6 Limited capacity by institutions
There is a clear limited capacity due to inadequate staffing and high staff turnover in some accountability institutions that affects the execution of their huge mandates and thus a bottleneck that requires innovative approaches. The Accountability Sector needs to create a strategic approach to capacity development that will have a long-term and substantial impact on the ability of the sector members.
7 Lack of definitive collaborative framework
The Accountability Sector is made up of institutions of different mandates, considering the diverse roles and mandates of the various members, the creation of the Accountability Sector was to have a common focus through which coordination, cooperation and information sharing among the Accountability Sector core members and key stakeholders could be enhanced in the promotion, supervision, as well as implementation of accountability systems, in the realizing of efficient and effective planning and delivery of services in Uganda. However lack of definitive collaborative framework to compel sector institutions to work as a unit to attain national accountability goals has impeded the progress of the Sector. The lack of effective coordination has affected sector priorities to be identified and supported by Government and International partners as well as other stakeholders

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