In the previous weeks, media was awash with a bribery story which involved top government officials.
This came nearly after President Museveni had declared war against all corrupt bureaucrats in his government. It was during the same occasion that the president applauded his Tanzanian counterpart John Pombe Magufuli’s methods of fighting corruption and promised to do the same.
However, many have regarded the president’s promise as purely cosmetic since he has always handled the corrupt with soft gloves. Corruption remains an obstacle to Uganda’s development gains. The country scored 25 per cent and ranked 151st out of 179 countries in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) annual report conducted by Transparency International in 2016.
Uganda is experiencing a new wave of organized, grand and syndicated corruption tendencies at the expense of taxpayers. Although Uganda has strong laws and policies against corruption, application of such is selective and tends to target the small fish.
By implication, the poor, vulnerable and marginalized continue to be disproportionately affected by corruption in almost every sector.
For instance, there is a child who fails to attain an education because of corruption in the education sector; a patient in a rural health centre may die because of embezzlement of medicine money in the health sector; and passengers’ lives are at risk because a driver paid a bribe to a traffic officer, etc.
Additionally, corruption in Uganda has become an acceptable norm, where the public thinks without it, things cannot get done. The growing culture of corruption in Uganda has not spared the youth either.
The Uganda Youth Survey Report (2016) revealed that a significant proportion of youths believe corruption is profitable, would take or give a bribe and would not pay taxes on earned income. More importantly, these are the future leaders.
President Museveni has often decried government officials who take bribes from investors. However, he has equally not shown willingness to deal with those found culpable of such acts. Therefore, the top leadership must exhibit willingness in the fight against corruption if we are to uproot the vice.
The government needs to empower anti-corruption state and non-state actors. Selective application of laws should be dealt away with to overcome the issue of small fish Vs big fish.
The public needs to be reminded that since corruption affects everyone, fighting it is a national priority.
Some opposition parties may go with Museveni
I recently listened to a local radio political show where the moderator hosted Yusuf Nsibambi from FDC to talk about the rise of Patrick Amuriat and the fall of Gen Mugisha Muntu in the recent FDC presidential elections.
When he was asked why he supported Amuriat, Nsibambi said Amuriat believes in Kizza Besigye’s defiance campaign and strategy aimed at fighting President Museveni.
Nsibambi trashed Muntu’s strategy of building party structures nationally and internationally, saying that the opposition does not need to build structures when President Museveni is still leading Uganda.
He said that after overthrowing Museveni, then they will think of building party structures. Such reasoning is one of the factors that are killing most of the opposition political parties because they have forgotten to build their roots from village levels to the national.
You can’t get power by concentrating on fighting an individual. That is why NRM wins almost all elective positions at local council levels. What will happen to people with Nsibambi’s thinking if Museveni leaves power? Won’t they also fade away?
Even if they get power, they are likely to lose it immediately because they won’t have built strong foundations.