Uganda’s effort in the corruption fight
If you traverse this country frequently, chances are high that you have had a torrid drive on a horrible road due to shoddy works. The discomfort you feel while on such roads is the common feeling you share with hundreds of school going children, who are studying in incomplete classroom blocks and even under trees, because the contractor colluded with someone else to do a poor job.
This is the ultimate price that millions of Ugandans are paying for the high levels of corruption. Some people actually care about changing this trend, which is why last week; several stakeholders joined hands in to mark the anti-corruption week with the aim of breathing a new lease of life into efforts to curb the deadly vice. “The anti-corruption week is a global undertaking that is has been designated to undertake activities that will fight corruption in countries,” explained Richard Ssewakiryanga, the Executive Director of the Uganda National NGO Forum.
The Uganda National NGO Forum played an integral role in organising events which marked the anti corruption week. Ssewakiryanga explains that much as the events held last week were on the corrup¬tion fight, focus was also put on strategies that aid integrity. The government agencies that took place in events that marked the week are the Inspectorate of Government, the Public Procurement & Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA, Office of the Auditor General, and the Directorate of Ethics & Integrity. “We as civil society need to work more closely with government agencies, because corruption is not an issue of a government department alone.
It is now a national issue,” says Ssewakiryanga. To kick start the week’s events was a media breakfast held in Kampala on December 2. The above govern¬ment agencies held candid discus¬sions with the country’s elite media professionals and managers on the sorry state of events and charted a way forward on how to fight corruption with a better strategy. “Our focus has been on fighting corruption in the public sector because we expect services from the taxes that we pay, but even the civil society, has a role to play.
We need to be exemplary in our practices,” Ssewakiryanga says. After the media breakfast, Simon Lokodo, the Minister of Ethics & Integrity led walkers in a procession through the streets of Kampala. The government agencies were then joined by several Civil Society partners such as Transparency International, Uganda Debt network among others involved in the corruption fight, and student clubs. The Anti-Corruption youth team also participated in the week’s activities.
On December 4th and 5th, these agencies held open days at Oasis Mall in Kampala. An Anti-corruption Convention was held in Hotel Africana as parts of events to mark the week. “The convention was very successful. It was opened by the Assistant Auditor General Keto Nyapendi Kay¬emba and closed by Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire, the Justice of the Court of Appeal. He decried the high levels of corruption at all levels of society. “We had fruitful discussions as regards the fight against corruption in this country,” says Ssewakiryanga.
Little progress in corruption fight
The Corruption Perceptions Index 2014 indicated that Uganda is not making considerable strides towards curbing corruption. With a score of 26%, Uganda ranked 142nd in the world in the 2014 Corruption Perceptions. That is no improvement on the 2013 score of 26%. In 2012, Uganda scored 29% in the Index.
GIZ works with national and international partners in the fight against corruption
One of the current political and economic problems eating up Uganda is widespread corruption. Subsequently, widespread corruption has resulted in poor service delivery and more poverty since most of the intended poverty eradication programmes are not fulfilled. Faced with such a dilemma, both domestic and international organisations, such as GIZ, have been central in the fight against corruption.
Nicholas Abola, the deputy director of information in the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity, says, “As you are aware, corruption is everywhere, including within the business community or private sector.” “For that reason we have partnered and worked with GIZ to establish the business code of ethics. The business community must have this code as a regulation and guiding principle in the country.
Abola says GIZ has been providing the financial support and the directorate has been providing the technical support. “Just like other disciplines, the business community needs this code for regulation considering that it has sanctions in case one does not abide it,” he says, adding: “With a code in place, most business issues and cases that end up in court will be reduced considering that the code provides for sanctions.” The code, which Abola says was launched last Thursday, will go a long way in fighting private sector corruption by ensuring that organisations encourage their members to follow it. The fight against corruption is a core element of German development cooperation.
Corruption impedes development and perpetuates poverty. It also undermines the effectiveness and efficiency of development cooperation. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) promotes anti-corruption efforts in partner countries.
Accordingly, the ministry has tasked GIZ (former GTZ) with establishing an advisory programme on anti-corruption and integrity. The programme advises BMZ on anticorruption and integrity as a field of action for German official development cooperation. Within the framework of the programme, GIZ works with national and international partners to network, develop and test instruments and approaches to prevent and fight corruption, and also to enhance integrity within public administration. The results of this work are then made available to the global anti-corruption community.
Among other activities conducted on behalf of BMZ, GIZ has participated in the design and execution of the UN Convention against Corruption Compliance Reviews. Despite its natural riches, Uganda remains one of the poorest countries in the world. In 2012, it ranked 161st of 186 countries in the Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Programme, placing it in the ‘Low human development’ category.
An annual economic growth rate of just 3.6%, coupled with high population growth and rising inflation further aggravates the situation for the almost 37 million Ugandans. In 2007, BMZ declared Uganda a priority country for development cooperation. At the bilateral negotiations between the Ugandan and German governments, held in Kampala in May 2013, both sides agreed that this cooperation should focus on three main priority areas