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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Fight against Corruption Not Blame Game, Its Everyone’s Responsibility

By Muhumuza Joel

Once again am my attention is drawn to an article written by Namiti Musaazi titled “Corruption in Ugandan society that is impossible to fight”

He writes that in Uganda, many people you report to about corruption are likely to be corrupt themselves; that reporting corruption rarely works and that it may even cost your life or the very least, that you may have acid thrown at you.

  • That he met a man at the passport office collecting bribes for passport office employee; that many Ugandans renewing passports always pay bribe.
  • He alleges that one cannot fight corruption without stepping on the toes of the very people running Uganda; that corruption is rarely investigated or punished; that Col Edith Nakalema and IGG Better Kamya will not go far because in Uganda the good people are outnumbered by the bad ones.

Picking from his allegations, I would say Namiti enjoys knowing NRM government as corrupt and therefore showing that NRM is fighting corruption is not in his interest.

The government of Uganda has put in place and is implementing different home-grown and internationally proven anti-corruption measures such as rescission of contracts obtained through corrupt means, monetary fines for those implicated in corruption, debarment/blacklisting of companies or individuals known to have been corrupt in the past.

Other measures are asset declaration by leaders and government officials to detect and minimize corrupt accumulation of assets, whistleblowing to expose corruption by those who know about it, criminalizing money laundering to stem the flow of illegally or corruptly acquired money, and confiscation of assets or proceeds obtained through corruption, all aimed at curbing endemic corruption in the country.

Nevertheless, it is true corruption both petty and grand still exists in some sectors of both public and private sectors because of weak laws where suspects easily find their way out of prisons even before their cases are well investigated and completed by the courts of laws.

This is because the current law prohibits police from detaining suspects beyond 48 hours yet a corruption scandal cannot be investigated in just one day. This gives chance for the corrupt to be released and end up interfering with the court processes.

It is against this background that the president is now pushing for the amendment of the current legal regime in order to remove bail for capital offenders like corruption suspects who are favored by the currently law. Those who are convicted are given lesser sentences.

It is not correct for Namiti to use a national newspaper to spread lies that you can be killed for reporting corruption in Uganda.

How many people have been killed because they reported cases of corruption? Spreading such malicious lies is corruption itself because he is discouraging people from reporting corruption. People may be scared of death which is not the case.

Corruption affects us all and it is every one’s duty and responsibility to report it. We therefore all have a duty to learn to recognize it, report it and take a stand against corruption whenever we come across it and not to keep commenting for action is taken.

To let you know, when reporting a case of corruption in the office of the IGG, confidentiality is prioritized. The form clearly states, “Information supplied will be treated with confidentiality. The IGG Office shall not disclose the identities of any individuals who report cases to this office,” so how is one going to be harmed if they are not even known?

The IGG recently noted that people have now personalized the fight against corruption. As a result, they have ended up as cheerleaders to point fingers to the people and this has not helped the situation,” Namiti could be one of them.

Corruption is to be fought by everyone and not just the government. True, it has an upper hand in fighting it but that does not mean you should sit down and do nothing, worse still author stories that intimidate others from fighting this disease.

Namiti went ahead and claimed that 16 years taken, as he was renewing his passport, he met a man who was receiving bribes for passport office adding that the passport and immigration office are one of the most corrupt agencies.

One would ask, what did Namiti do when he found that man collecting bribes? What does talking about it in the Sunday monitor supposed to serve this country?

Well, that was then 16 years back and things have changed today, technology has made things easier.

Next time just go online, fill a given form, go to the bank and clear all  payments, scheduled a day of your choice for the face to face interviews with all the requirements and within two weeks, your passport will be ready. Namiti must be stuck in 2005 when everything was done manually. The process is now totally different.

President Yoweri Museveni is also doing everything within his means to fight graft. He instituted The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) which is a one-stop-center specialized office under State House whose function is to receive corruption information from Ugandan citizens over a secure and confidential online platform.

From inception to date, the Unit has so far conducted investigations on corruption related offences in the Central Government (Ministries, Departments and Agencies), Local Governments and the Private Sector.

These investigations are so far worth 250Bn/=. 146 persons have been charged before Courts of Law out of whom 120 are public officers currently on interdiction and 26 are Private Companies/Individuals. Fourteen (14) of these persons have been convicted and the other cases are pending in court at various stages.

A total of 1.73Bn/= was recovered; Shs. 1Bn/= being money recovered from Labor Export Companies that had taken money from desperate youths with the promise of jobs in the Middle East and failed to provide the jobs. Shs. 738m was money recovered from air supplies from Gaming and Lotteries Board and returned to the Treasury among many other cases.

It is very discouraging that Namiti and his colleague Gawaya Tegulle only wish people to deny government votes because of their narrow research instead of encouraging Hon Betty Kamya -IGG and Col Nakalema other institutions to fight on.

As Albert Einstein once said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing,” I think those that are even worse are those that do not want anything to be done. This is the case with Namiti. He advocates for people keeping quiet and incites fear.

I urge Ugandans to join the fight against corruption by reporting all cases of revolving around it and not to be idle talkers like the likes of Namiti to keep commenting in newspapers without action. Let us come together to make our country better. Corruption is cancer that will be defeated.

 

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