Citizens in Ankole region (Western Uganda) have called for a commitment by National leaders to fight corruption and it will drastically reduce. Citizens argued that Uganda has enough legal frameworks to fight corruption however implementation of the laws and policies has been wanting and thus challenged government leaders to commit to end corruption. The call was made during the Western Region Anti-corruption symposium held on 13th June 2017 in Mbarara at the Catholic Social Center that was attended by atleast 45 stakeholders drawn from Local government, CSOs, Academia, Political parties, Media.
Supported by UNDP, the symposium offered opportunity for the various stakeholders to explore alternative approaches through which a culture of integrity can be built within society and the public office. While giving his opening remarks, Hon. Basil Bataringaya representing the LC V Chairperson Mbarara noted that the symposium was mainly going to discuss the future of Uganda. He underscored the role of all stakeholders (government, CSOs, media, religious leaders and citizens) in the fight against corruption and thus called for more engagement of these identified categories to ensure integrity is restored in community. He further called for redefinition of corruption because the current definition only limits it to public officials yet it’s perpetuated by many categories. He wondered why Uganda a country well known to be religious has been eaten up by corruption.
While setting the scene for the symposium, Mr. Richard Ssewakiryanga the Executive Director highlighted on the different legal framework available to fight corruption like constitution of Uganda, leadership code Act, Whistle Browers Act, the Inspectorate of Government, Anti-corruption Act, Access to information Act and the Anti-pornography Act. He stressed that despite all the above laws, we still have many institutions that are not effective and thus asked what more should be done;
The symposium provided opportunity to stakeholders to share new approaches that can be taken to ensure the culture of integrity is built and corruption combated to zero. Below are some of the approaches that were unanimously agreed upon;
- Individual efforts to reform is key in fight against graft.
- Reform governance system to ensure it’s responsive to citizens demands
- Mobilize citizens to play a role in governance
- Strengthen government systems so as to ensure accountability
- Strengthen organs of the state to ensure there is constitutionalism
- Love for the country is fundamental in fight against corruption
- Dealing with immorality and this should start at the family level.
- Translation of laws and policies so that all citizens that ably participate in governance processes.
The Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee Mbarara Mr. Godwin Gumisiriza challenged government to provide quality social services so that the cost of living goes low and thus stopping people from stealing public funds to meet their needs.
To demonstrate its commitment to the fight against corruption, the Government of Uganda established a Ministry for Ethics and Integrity to coordinate the anticorruption crusade and appointed a minister to be the political head of this ministry. Not many countries on the continent have such ministry. Uganda police created an anti corruption unit under its criminal investigation department to be able to hunt down those who are stealing public funds with the swiftness required to nub them, Judiciary established an anti corruption division at the high court level to be able to expeditiously handle corruption cases and eliminate backlog. This shows that Uganda is doing well in establishing the legal framework, the remaining mantle therefore is the political will to end corruption.