Corruption in Uganda by hedongchenchen


									                  Corruption in Uganda: Civil Society's Response
                             By Augustine Muserero
                              Uganda Debt Network
Uganda ranks 11th most corrupt country in the world according to International corruption perception index
compiled by transparency International. This represents a slippage, as Uganda had been ranked 13th in

This situation has called for serious concern by the civil society. Uganda Debt Network (UDN) considers
this situation to have been aggravated by the ignorance of the people at the grassroots of their rights, which
renders them powerless to demand for their and resist demands by corrupt officials. The systems in place
create an enabling environment for the public officials to plunder public resources and escape with

Since its inception, the NRM has set up structures intended to counter corruption. Most notably, the
Inspector General of Government, the Department of ethics and integrity, in the President's Office headed a
cabinet minister. The leadership code was also introduced requiring leaders of all levels to declare their
wealth. Despite these commendable efforts, corruption is still rampant and government structures
ineffective to effectively counter it.

In order to change this trend, UDN has targeted people at grassroots, to be sensitized and enabled to
participate in policy formulation, implementation and effective monitoring of public resources. UDN then
embarked on the project on Grassroots action on transparency and accountability. Three districts were
selected as pilot districts: Rukungiri, Mukono, and Tororo. However due to public demand the number of
districts were increased to five to cover Katakwi and Soroti.

The Grassroots Anti-corruption Campaign

The project on grassroots anti-corruption campaign has so far been launched in three districts: Katakwi and
Soroti (1st and 2nd July 2000), and Rukungiri (23rd September 2000). In each case, people at the grassroots
drove the process. They did the mobilization, secured the support of political and civic leaders, and invited
UDN to participate. In Soroti and Katakwi, it was the district Chairpersons that were the chief walkers and
in their speeches denounced corruption and promised total support to the anti-corruption campaign. In
Soroti, the district chairperson (political head) has appeared twice on radio talk shows organized by UDN
to sensitize the people against corruption. A similar programme is being organized for Rukungiri and
Katakwi. In Rukungiri, the chairperson announced the setting aside of some funds to be used as baits to
trap corrupt officials and called upon the people to utilize them. The Rukungiri launch was graced by the
director of ethics in the president's who expressed support for UDN's anti-corruption campaign and
encouraged the people to seriously join it.

Achievements of this campaign so far

   The successful launching of the this campaign in the three districts so many kilometers away from the
    centre and deep upcountry is a clear indication of the people's determination to remain committed to
    the fight against corruption. Normally the farther away people are from the capital, the less active they
    tend to be in such activities.

   The close collaboration between UDN and district leaders and the grassroots people gives the
    campaign a firm foundation for sustainability.

   The events were fully covered by local and national radio. The Rukungiri event was also covered by
    Television for Environment to be aired eight times on BBC between 3 rd -8th November 2000.
   Civil society's creativity has been enhanced as grassroots people came up with their own messages in
    songs, drama and poems depicting the extent of corruption in their societies and what action should be
    taken to combat it. This was created an opportunity to reach and sensitize large sections of society at
    the grassroots, who have no access to print and electronic media, on the role of Civil society in the
    fight against corruption.

   Members of the civil society have already started acting against corruption with a specific complaint
    launched by people from one of the participating districts where medical drugs were being diverted for
    personal benefit of officials in charge. The complaint is receiving attention from the relevant
    government organs.

   Members of the civil society at grassroots level can now ably articulate issues of accountability and
    transparency openly and without fear. In these districts people can now run radio talk shows and
    discuss issues of accountability and transparency without requiring the presence of UDN staff. Some
    have also started mobilizing schools and other civil society organisations. This is making the
    campaign grow bigger and stronger.

   These events have been sufficiently documented with audio and visual tapes kept for future use.

   During these functions, representatives of government Institutions fighting against corruption were
    represented. This gave the grassroots people opportunity to interact with them, during public
    dialogues, and receive information on how, when, and where to report cases of corruption when

   District leaders are now conscious of grassroots people's awareness of their rights to demand for
    accountability and transparency, which is hoped will improve the situation.

The National Anti-corruption Campaign

On 13 July 2000, the Minister of Ethics and Integrity represented by the Permanent Secretary launched the
national CSO anti-corruption campaign. At this function, over 2000 anti-corruption post cards signed by
members of the civil society petitioning government to expedite the fight against corruption were handed to
the Minister's representative. Members of the civil society and representatives from over 30 districts also
attended the occasion. UDN is one of the founder members, lead agency, and host of the Anti-corruption
coalition Uganda, a loose coalition of CSO in Uganda involved in the fight against corruption. A
representative of the Inspector General of Police, and Inspector General of Government who pledged their
cooperation with civil society in this noble cause also addressed the participants at the occasion. At this
function, number Ugandan citizens who have lived an exemplary life and proponents of the anti-corruption
struggle were recognised and awarded UDN certificates of recognition. An anti-corruption drama by a
local drama group was one of the highlights of the day and received prominent coverage in the local and
national media.

Other activities in the anti-corruption campaign

In September 2000, UDN also spearheaded a campaign against the MPs' claim to have government wave
off their loans on their car loan schemes. As far UDN is concerned, the action by the MPs raised a number
of serious issues:
    After four years the MPs wanted to renegotiate the terms of the contract which augers badly for the re-
     establishment of commercial justice in Uganda.
    They wanted to use their office to get themselves additional privileges while the rest of Ugandans are
     suffering under immense poverty. MPs should be spearheading the efforts to change this culture
   Uganda is very poor and is dependent for more than 50% of its budget on foreign assistance in forms
    of loans and grants. Government should not borrow or use debt relief savings to fund luxurious

 Within a period of one week, over 9000 signatures had been collected from the public covering 43 out of
45 districts of Uganda. Given the pressure created by this petition and the debate that was generated from
the press release and the petitions, the MPs quietly dropped their claim but the debate still rages on mainly
Newspapers and on FM radio stations. The debate has also raised a number of other issues. For example
after this petition, the MPs released a list of Government officials who had acquired vehicles under the
government co-ownership scheme and defaulted.

Anti-corruption week 23-31 October 2000

October 23-31 was declared anti-corruption week by the members of the anti-corruption coalition Uganda
where UDN is an active member. Several upcountry activities have been organized in the three districts
where the anti-corruption campaign has been launched. These include:
   Drama activities
   Radio talk shows organised by the grassroots people
   Public demonstration
   Involving the youth in a public dialogue on corruption
   Radio talk shows

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