The ‘Thin Cow’ of Corruption Is Now Being Excoriated in Uganda

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently. – Friedrich Nietzsche.

Corruption -fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery for personal gain constitutes a major challenge for businesses operating or planning to invest in Uganda.

The police, the judiciary, and procurement are areas where corruption risks are very high and under-the-table cash payments are expected.

The core of Uganda’s legal anti-corruption framework is the Anti-Corruption Act, the Penal Code, the Inspectorate of Government Act 2002, the Public Finance Management Act 2015 and the Leadership Code Act 2002 (LCA).

Following Uganda’s liberation from the forces of tyranny by the National Resistance Army (NRA), a new broad-based government was formed with Yoweri Museveni as President. One of the many challenges of the day was a small competent civil service.

This had caused challenges of extortion by the army, extrajudicial killings, poaching of animals in national parks, embezzlement of public funds, bribery, nepotism, and encroachment on natural resources.

To this end, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) in 1988 established the office of inspector general of Government (IGG). However, with the promulgation of the Uganda Constitution in 1995, the Inspectorate of Government is now entrenched therein under chapter 13. This inspectorate has the mandate to eliminate corruption, abuse of authority and of public office.

According to trading economics, Uganda’s “corruption rank” – Corruption Perceptions Index- in 2018 was 149/175 countries. Averaged 115.45 from 1996 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 151 in 2016 and a record low of 43 in 1996.

Despite the successful completion of many corruption investigations; trials and convictions that the Inspectorate has superintended over; Corruption still remains a serious flaw in the government’s effective service delivery mechanism.

To further bolster the government’s efforts in combating this vice, President Museveni last December launched a sister agency – Anti-Corruption Unit. Speaking at the 9th Commonwealth Regional Conference for Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa, H.E. Museveni said, the new unit headed by Lt. Col Edith Nakalema plays a complementary role and operates under the auspices of State House Uganda.

The advantage of it being directly under the supervision of State House is; to quote Museveni; “People will be reporting to Nakalema who’ll be reporting to me.”

In the last year, a lot of successes have been reported by both the Inspectorate of government and the Anti-Corruption Unit. 10 months after it started operations, Lt.Col. Edith Nakalema’s Unit had received 58,400 corruption complaints of which 8,022 had been concluded, 4,017 still under investigation and another 35,280 cases were referred to relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) for administrative management.

Most of these cases centered on land compensations and court delays due to investigations by the Inspectorate of Government or Police, welfare inquiries, presidential pledges and disputes between private individuals including unscrupulous companies and individuals suspected of human trafficking.

Mr. Ofwono Opondo, Executive Director of Government’s Media Centre- while making the case for this unit in October also stated: “The Unit has so far secured five convictions, three in bribery-related cases and two in respect to persons masquerading as State House Anti-Corruption unit officials. Its intervention in the National Gaming and Lotteries Board also caused a recovery of approximately Shs700m irregularly paid out.”

Genesis 41 tells the story of Pharaoh’s dream. “After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, and behold, there came up out of the Nile seven cows, attractive and plump, and they fed in the reed grass.3And behold, seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile.4And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows. And Pharaoh awoke.”

These combined efforts by all government agencies in combating Corruption especially the open uncomplex methods employed by the Anti-Corruption unit are already bearing fruit, Public confidence is being restored in civil service as well as within the jurisprudence process. The ‘thin cow’ of corruption is now being excoriated.

Because of his abhorrence to this corruption vice, H.E. President Museveni will tomorrow 4th December 2019, join House Speaker Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, His Lordship Chief Justice Bart Katureebe and thousands of Ugandans in a 4km walk from Constitution Square Kololo Ceremonial grounds. This walk is an affirmation of the National Resistance Movement government’s firm to #EndCorruptionNow.

The Writer is a Communications Assistant at Government Citizen Interaction Centre (GCIC), Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.