KAMPALA. At his inauguration speech for the fifth elective term last year, President Museveni vowed to fight corruption but as the ruling NRM party celebrates 31 years in power today, the latest Transparency International Uganda (TIU) report has put Uganda among top 25 countries with escalating corruption levels in the world.
“The corrupt are going to see how a muyekera [resistance fighter] looks like…..corruption should and will be stamped out among political leaders and public servants. We are going to stamp out corruption as we stamped out indiscipline in the army,” Mr Museveni vowed.
It appears, the President’s efforts, if any, are not paying off if the TIU assessment is anything to go by.
TIU’s Corruption Perception Index 2016 ranked Uganda 151st after scoring 25 per cent out of 176 countries assessed.
Uganda, which comes after Burundi—the most corrupt country in East Africa, dropped by 12 places from the rank at 139 in 2015. Rwanda, ranked 50th in the world, is the least corrupt country in the East Africa region.
Mr Peter Wandera, the TIU executive director, blames the corruption levels on the 2016 election year characterised by impunity and voter bribery.
He also blamed the vice on scandals in government ministries and agencies such as the public service pension scandal and the plunder that was uncovered in Uganda National Roads Authority.
“Everybody is affected by corruption either as a victim of a missed opportunity, service or paying a bribe,” Mr Wandera said.
He said Uganda should look up to countries performing well whose success he attributed to better implementation of existing laws and independence of institutions in executing their respective mandates in fighting corruption.
However, Ethics and Integrity State minister Simon Lokodo, whose ministry is directly charged with fighting the corrupt, dismissed the TIU report saying the parameters used do not match with those of government.
“I have never appreciated the reports made by TIU based on their submissions. A lot has changed positively and there is a great improvement in human resource, equipment and institutions performing their duties,” Fr Lokodo said in an interview with Daily Monitor.
Fr Lokodo said government has put up a number of measures, including “inter-agency forum to fight corruption at district levels” and arrest and prosecution of public officers accused of corruption which he said should show corruption levels going down and not increasing like the TIU report indicates.
However, Ms Cissy Kagaba, the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda executive director, agreed with the TIU verdict. She attributed the raging corruption to lack of punishment against the culprits.
“There is lack of a systematic implementation of laws in place coupled with the god-father syndrome, lack of political will and it is bigger when institutions are not working independently which breeds impunity in this country,” she said.
IGG speaks out on corruption report
The Inspector General of Government (IGG), Ms Irene Mulyagonja, said: “The TIU report makes comparison of countries without considering the different environment they operate in, particularly the history, culture and constraint in the fight against corruption among others.”
“The TIU report therefore has no place in helping Uganda to improve its efforts to deal with corruption. The report is based on perceptions on corruption not actual corruption. As an institution that deals with corruption and maladministration in the public sector, the inspectorate is aware of fact that many people understand maladministration to be corruption.”