By Andrew Irumba
President Yoweri Museveni has assured Ugandans that the problem of corruption is still defeatable and that his 33 y’r old Government now has the manpower to handle the issue more firmly than before.
The President was speaking during the celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of Transparency International Uganda (TIU) at Imperial Royale Hotel on Tuesday afternoon where a national anti- corruption dialogue was held under the theme; ‘Citizen’s participation in the fight against corruption: A Sustainable Path to Uganda’s Transformation.’
Mr. Museveni who was the chief guest at the celebrations congratulated the TIU on its anniversary and informed the people that the government has given enough time for corrupt civil servants to expose themselves and that their time was up.
He noted that in the early years of 1986, the NRM government was not able to restructure the civil service like it had done for the army because it did not have the manpower and would have created political problems.
“Even if we had the capacity to change civil servants, we would have been isolated. In terms of fairness, it was good to give people a chance. We now have manpower to select people to work, but we need to be sure about the integrity of the new ones we select,” he said.
The President said while Ugandans were complaining of officials suspected of corruption not being put in jail, it is within the law that they have to be prosecuted first. He however noted that while the government had put in place laws to protect public servants, there was now need for quicker methods of demanding accountability.
“The laws are there, the institutions are there but the personnel handling them are the problem. I don’t need a frightened civil service. The country needs confident and able leaders who know what is right and do what is right,” he said.
Museveni re-echoed the people’s views that increment in the remuneration of salaries of public servants was not the cure to corruption because public servants in government institutions like KCCA, Bank of Uganda, URA were still corrupt despite the high pay.
The Bank of Uganda is under investigation by the Parliament Committee on Commissions, Statutory authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) over fraudulent dealings. Previously the President has accused officials in the Ministry of Finance and the Uganda Revenue Authority of corruption.
The President said that patriotism was the cure to corruption and that he would talk more on the government’s new efforts to curb corruption on 10th December 2018.
The Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Fr. Simon Lokodo thanked His Excellency for putting in place legal frame works to fight corruption. He noted that government had gone into partnerships with international agencies whose main goal and focus was to fight corruption and demand for accountability, which government could not do alone.
The Chairperson of Transparency International Uganda Dr. Delia Ferreira Rubio thanked the President for honouring their invitation and said that it was a citizen’s role to participate in the fight to end corruption.
The President presented awards to outstanding members in the fight against corruption and these were; FDC strong man and former Leader of Opposition in parliament Hon. Wafula Ogutu, Lady Justice Nakamya Elizabeth and Hon. Augustine Ruzindana.
The President also received an award in recognition for his efforts of curbing corruption through setting an anti-corruption office, setting up legal frameworks to fight corruption and constantly denouncing corruption.
Read Museveni’s full statement he released on his social media platform after being awarded yesterday... …”Was chief guest at the 25th anniversary celebrations of Transparency International, Uganda Chapter, in Kampala. I thank them for giving me an award in recognition of my fight against corruption.
On Monday December 10th, I will announce new measures and the direction we shall take in our renewed fight against corruption.
That said, there is corruption in Uganda. It stems from the colonial times. However, when we undertook the liberation struggle of this country, there were more pressing problems than corruption.
These were; extra-judicial killings by state actors between 1966 to 1986. We lost about 800,000 people in that period. Luweero Triangle alone saw about 300,000 people killed.
There was the problem of no democracy. After holding elections in April 1962, the next elections were in 1980 and they were bad elections. It was a whole 18 years of no elections.
The third challenge was the collapse of the economy. By 1986, the economy was characterized by three words; Magendo (smuggling ), kikubo (black market) and kusamula (speculation).
Because of these three, we then had the collapse of infrastructure. Uganda had one electricity station, built by the British with a capacity of 150MW but was only producing 60MW by 1986.
The other problem was poaching. Most wildlife in national parks were on the verge of extinction. For example we had no elephants, with those that had survived poachers seeking refuge in DR Congo. The white rhinos disappeared totally.
When the revolution succeeded, we had few intellectuals. Most of our fighters were peasants or those who had dropped out of school early. The only institution we immediately reformed was the army–where we created the UPDF and destroyed the old armies.
Today, whenever any researcher asks what institution the public trusts, the UPDF comes out on top. Those fighting corruption must look at the army as the nucleus of this struggle.
But even when we changed the army, the other institutions like the civil service, the Judiciary, the education system and others stayed as we had inherited them. Had we, for example, dismissed the civil servants, we would have created problems and isolated ourselves.
We also made the mistake of assuming that elected leaders would diligently serve in their people’s interests. We gave people power to elect leaders, who instead of offering oversight have joined the corrupt class.
However, corruption will now be defeated. The corrupt civil servants have exposed themselves. The population is angry with them. Also, we now have more educated young people. The pool from which to pick their replacements has grown.
The problem now is the law manipulated by corrupt civil servants. We now need quicker methods of accountability to deal with the corrupt. I have the political will but I do not want to deal with them outside the law.
I do not want to lead a country which is timid, or one with civil servants living in fear. We shall deal with the the corrupt officials structurally.
There must also be a reflection on the morals of our young people. When setting up the Uganda Revenue Authority, we carefully identified young people to work there. But now, URA has kawunkumi (weevils). We need to deal with it.
I was also told that poor remuneration fuelled corruption but even in agencies like URA, Bank of Uganda, Kampala Capital City Authority, where the pay is competitive, there exists corruption.
All in all, we shall defeat corruption. Like I said, I will make major pronouncements on December 10th in our new fight against graft. I urge Ugandans to listen in.”