Written in 2005
By William Kituuka
Corruption is one of the rampant evils facing Uganda today. This is manifested in various forms including abuse of office, fraud and embezzlement, falsification of documents, nepotism, over – invoicing, tax evasion, gross misappropriation of public funds, false budgeting and many others. Due to the devastating effects of corruption, people are denied basic social services. Although there are laws and institutions to fight corruption, the laws are marred by poor enforcement and the institutions suffer vast constraints including lack of adequate and skilled manpower, poor remuneration of staff, lack of incentives and lack of logistical support. While it is true that corruption is a world wide phenomenon, it is worrying the dimension it is taking in Uganda. It is not only institutionalized today, but also threatens to tear the whole economy a part. At the time of founding of the NRM revolution, many ambitious people and others who were convince that the Government of the day (Milton Obote) was persecuting them found sanctuary in the NRM ranks. Many of these people hoped to gain materially after the fall of Kampala. So the war actually corrupted them! After the fall of Kampala, it is on record that the scramble for positions and assets started. With the conviction that these people “had fought,” greed and use of positions for personal gain flourished.
Not only did many of these “cadres” mismanage public enterprises, some looted them thoroughly. By the time of privatization, public resources had been looted by individual managers who were paying themselves for having “liberated” the country to the extent that upon the sale of the public assets, some enterprises had bigger liabilities than their net worth!
This cancer has reached the extent that those with political connections are the ones who take most of the advertised jobs. The trick at times is that those who are better qualified for the job are not short listed or one “fails” the interview even before attending it!
The story goes further. The individual merit in elections made it. It became near to impossible to contest successfully in elections without “logistics”. What is surprising is the way public money is openly dished out to facilitate supporters! It is now normal to promise political supporters jobs without bothering to think of where the money to pay them will come from!
These people are free to feast on this “manna” by virtue of their positions. However, the worst corruption is related to procurement. Procurement typically accounts for the largest share of public expenditure at all levels of government.
The temptations are enormous and in too many cases, the risks of punishment are relatively small.