The State minister for Ethics and Integrity, Fr.Simon Lokodo has said no one else apart from Ugandans is to blame for the rampant corruption in the country.
A February report by Transparency International ranked Uganda 151 out of the 180 in terms of corruption.
Speaking during the national anti-corruption dialogue organised by Transparency International Uganda at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala on Tuesday, Lokodo said that many blame government officials for the thriving corruption tendencies but noted that the blame should be put on citizens.
“Government institutions have failed to fight corruption not because they don’t want or are not facilitated to do so but because citizens are watching corruption thriving and sitting back,”Lokodo said.
“Victims and consumers of corruption are the citizens but have failed to join the fight against the vice.”
Lokodo cited an example of an old lady whom she said received only 20 chicks out of the mandatory 100 from a certain government programme but failed to report the case to authorities and chose to keep quiet.
According to Lokodo, despite being facilitated to fight the vice, government institutions have not been successful on their mandate because they lack support from the citizens.
The junior minister for Ethics and Integrity insisted that because Ugandans benefit from corruption, they are redundant to fight the vice.
“If citizens had denounced corruption, it would not survive. They(government institutions) are not angels but they have not been supported .The blame should be put on citizens for letting down government agencies,” he added.
Participants take swipe at Lokodo
Meanwhile, a number of participants took a swipe at minister Lokodo for trying to defend government institutions on corruption and shifting the blame onto the citizens.
Former Makerere University guild president, Ivan Bwowe said citizens cannot be blamed for the thriving corruption without bringing in government officials.
“You can’t blame citizens for corrupt officials. Corruption is thriving simply because there is no political will to fight the impunity with which the vice is continuing. There is no determination for government to enforce laws,”Bwowe said.
He accused some government officials of turning a blind eye to fighting corruption because many of them thrive from it.
Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU)’s Crispin Kaheru said laws only cannot help fight corruption if there is no will for doing so.
According to Kaheru, the notion that citizens are to blame for corruption is wrong, adding that because they are poor, they focus on how to get out of poverty other than reporting corrupt officials.
“Because citizens are poor, they can’t raise their voices against corruption. The only thing they are focusing on is how to make money,” Kaheru noted.
He added that many citizens cannot join in efforts to fight corruption because they don’t have trust in government institutions’ will to fight the vice.
“They don’t have confidence in those institutions. They rater choose to stay away from the fight.”
In the past few years, a number of cases have put government officials in the spotlight over corruption and misappropriation of funds.
A recent internal audit by the United Nations indicated that officials from the Office of the Prime Minister through corruption and mismanagement misappropriated money meant for refugees.