Over the last two weeks, I interested myself in reading some of the best research papers, approaches and strategies on tackling corruption in Uganda and Africa at large. On the contrary, the approaches and solutions look smooth in design, are desirable, achievable and, could as well qualify to be SMART. However, why haven’t our best solutions taken Uganda out of the corruption vicious circle?
In the recently published 2017 Corruption Perception Index, Uganda ranked 151 out of the 180 countries. Unfortunately, this poor performance is nothing new as the country has enjoyed the same SPOT for the last four CPI years.
As a country, we approximately have 10 agencies mandated to tackle corruption , but their contribution towards fighting graft is not solid since some of them could be duplicating each other’s work. These include: the Inspectorate of Government (IG), the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Auditor General (AG) etc. A number of other bodies have functions closely related to anti-corruption action but hold mandates where corruption is but one element ,include the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA). The Directorate of Ethics and Integrity (DEI) coordinates anti-corruption policy and provides political leadership. All these bodies are in membership of the Inter Agency Forum (IAF) which provides a coordinating mechanism.
Despite the availability of institutions, a legal framework , and policy measures, Uganda’s performance remains dismal. Uganda has subscribed to a number of international treaties and regional organisations whose operations have direct relevance for the manner in which accountability issues are addressed. These include: the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime 2000 (The Palermo Convention); United Nations Convention on the suppression of the financing of terrorism (1999); United Nations Convention against Corruption, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, (2003) and the East and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG).
Notwithstanding subscription to all the above mentioned international treaties, regional organisations and laws, the Global Integrity report 2011 highlighted that Uganda has a high implementation gap, in which it scored very highly (98%) on having a very good legal framework but was awarded 52% for having weak implementation record. This gave the country an implementation gap of 46% in a study that covered 31 countries.
What could be going wrong?
As a citizen, I applaud the generals in the accountability Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the anti corruption fraternity for their efforts towards tackling corruption in Uganda! Kudos for the good work—But something is not right somewhere!! The work am referring to at this particular moment are the best researches, well designed boardroom approaches and solutions as well as cosmetic appearances before the public to preach the anti corruption gospel.
Ladies and gentlemen, its time for all stakeholders contributing to the anti corruption fight to slow down in regards to whatever they are implementing and re-strategize on how to make it happen. Uganda is poorly performing not because of laws, manpower and institutions, but, because we are too rigid to change our ways of work. This could as well justify as to why the country is not shifting spots amongst the corruption celebrities. It could as well highlight that the corrupt (read thieves) are too flexible in regards to strategy, to beat the activists and institutions at their game.
In Uganda today, citizens are empowered about corruption and, have also done their role to report the vice, but where is the actual problem? For the few citizens I talked to, they highlighted that the few people charged to tackle corruption in the nation are also corrupt! Their assertions could be justified by a recent report by the Inspectorate of Government naming the 80 most corrupt government agencies; where some agencies mandated to tackle corruption are famed and shamed. Citizens perception on these agencies manifest that people no longer trust government when it comes to fighting corruption.
Therefore a shift from old school approaches in tackling the vice should be made. Board solutions work for board room people but not for the common man. Let’s be flexible enough to come up with solutions matching with technological and development trends. The common man should be also consulted on what they feel could be best done, since the elites are scoring negatives in that arena.
What can be done differently?
Instead of borrowing ideas, solutions and approaches from elsewhere and redesign them in our boardrooms, it’s high time we ask the common man who is more affected by corruption on what S/he thinks could best be done to tackle the vice. Do not be surprised that they will come up with enriching ideas and working solutions. That could shift Uganda from the same CPI Spot to a slightly higher bar.
And for whoever is reading this, what have you done in your capacity to contribute towards the Anti Corruption Fight. Do you have a strategy that has worked in Africa and could be rolled out to some of us from countries occupying the same spot in corruption indices? Feel free to share your story.
Until next time!
For God and My Country.