President Museveni has continuously complained about corruption in public offices and has on several occasions vowed to stamp it out.
Trillions of shillings have been lost going by a compilation of the major corruption scandals that have rocked the country in recent years.
Speaking to The Nile Post, Cissy Kagaba, the executive director of the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) said corruption has become a monster that may end up bringing down this regime.
As ACCU, how far have you gone with the fight against corruption which has become the biggest obstacle in the service delivery?
One of the things that we try to do is to raise civic awareness among the population in order for them to know that the fight against corruption is not the role of the government or the civil society. The Constitution Article 17(i) says that every individual has the obligation to fight corruption.
So in as far as voicing civic consciousness is concerned, that is one of the things we have done. We have also contributed to some of the legislation like the Leadership Code Amendment Act, we have contributed to the Anti-Corruption Act, and we have contributed to the enactment of the Whistleblower’s Act.
The opposition has often criticised government over its failure to fight corruption. Do you think they are just using graft to discredit the regime?
Let me take you back to the ten point programme that the current regime used to overthrow the previous regime. Point number 7 is clear on corruption and the ten points programme was drafted by the regime, not by the opposition.
The government that commits to fight corruption is the same government that overthrew the regime on the issues of corruption .So it’s not an opposition matter. It is the issue the government committed itself to do when they were overthrowing the previous regime because they accused it of being corrupt.
Despite our remonstration, most Ugandans love and practice corruption. Where did we go wrong in the fight against this vice?
When you have all these very many laws and the enforcement is weak or is done selectively that means we are going at it in the wrong way.
Secondly, you don’t equip adequately the institutions that are supposed to fight corruption because when you read most of these accountability agencies reports, look at IGG report, look at Auditor General report, and look at even the police, one of the things that they continue to talk about is of not being facilitated well.
Do we implement the recommendations that come out of these entities that our government has put in place? Remember the IGG has produces reports, the Auditor General does produce reports. These are government reports, these are not civil society reports. When it comes to enforcing these recommendations, there has been a problem.
Many government officials have on several times talked about the mafia network frustrating the system. Do you think government agencies have been already infiltrated?
The people who are talking about the mafias are the people within the government. If the mafia talk was coming from us the civil society that would be a different thing.
If the former speaker [Rebecca Kadaga}] talked about the mafias, if the former vice president [Gilbert Bukenya] talked about mafias, I would think the president and his team would not take it lightly. The mafia talk has been there for quite some time. We need to ask ourselves what action has been taken against these mafias and how strong these mafias are because we may realise that these mafias are so much stronger than the president.
Are there some government entities that are independent and effectively executing their mandates without interference?
Yes, there are some entities that we can say that have done a great job. I think Uganda Revenue Authority is doing a great job, Auditor General is doing a great job but with URA, you all know that there are certain people in this country who don’t pay taxes. The mafias may not necessarily pay taxes when it comes to clearing some of their goods because they are highly connected.
How did Uganda get to this point where corruption is entrenched in most of the institutions?
When inaction happens, it breeds impunity and the moment we have impunity people can easily get away with it. When you look at illicit financial flows that are coming out of Uganda alone, I think it is over $ 1 billion a year.
There is the issue of money laundering, there is human trafficking, so that level of theft has led to impunity. I think Covid-19 pandemic has exposed us more as a country, especially on how money has been handled. It is not that corruption was not there but during the Covid-19 period, we got huge amounts of monies that have been mismanaged.
What must be done differently in this kind of situation where the state is believed to have been captured by the corrupt?
People need to know that power belongs to them, it is their responsibility. People need to take it up upon themselves to call out people that they know are being corrupt because people know those who are corrupt.
If this government is really genuine about fighting corruption, this vice can be eradicated by ensuring that the law doesn’t work selectively by also letting systems to work because the government put in place very good systems. We need to ask ourselves why the government is not using the systems put in place.
Ugandans have been so bitter about the Shs200 million that was given to each of the 529 legislators and the 26 ex-officio members of the 11th Parliament. What is your take?
You know when these guys are coming to Parliament, they told people that they are coming to serve. Now if you are coming to serve why do you need a car worth that amount of money. How were you moving when you were canvassing for votes?
Remember this Shs 200 million is never accounted for. Most of them never buy a car of that amount of money because others already have their own vehicle .What we lack as a country are leaders that are selfless. Most of our leaders are self-centred.
Leaders in public offices have been asked to declare their wealth. Do you think this will help to fight corruption?
It will not because if you read the IGG report, it shows you that they don’t have the capacity to verify each and every person’s wealth. How many people do we have under that directorate and how many public servants do we have? Sometimes back when the law was amended, they removed the clause of spouses and children of these peoples from being declared. We have seen the situation where people buy property and put it in the name of their spouses or the children but the previous Parliament decided to remove that clause which is very unfortunate.