Dialogue On Corruption And Good Governance In Uganda

The Public Interest Law clinic (PILAC) in School of Law Makerere University convened a public discourse on the topic of Corruption and Good Governance, as contribution to the debate on topical issues in the country.

According the Coordinator PILAC, Dr. Christopher Mbazira, the public discourse is a forum where Makerere University can interact with the public and public figures working on issues of national concern.
The discourse held at St Francis Students centre in Makerere University and attracted a panel of persons of varied backgrounds that included the Academia represented by Bishop Zac Niringiye, the civil society represented by Ms. Cissy Agaba, Executive Director Anti Corruption Coalition Uganda. Others on the panel were Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere, and Mr. Sydney Asubo Director in charge legal Affairs from the Inspectorate of Government.

The discourse was structured basing on four questions namely;

1.    Whether the vice of Corruption has come out of society and is not about to go away?

2.    Is there evidence of political will to fight corruption and whether the responsible organs are fighting corruption?

3.    Whether civil society has been given space to fight corruption and if they have been nurtured to undertake this role.

4.    Whether Uganda has a chance of enjoying a corruption free society.


Bishop Zac Niringiye a Fellow with Religion, Rights and Peace at the School of law Makerere University stressed the need to build demand for accountability and transparency from the citizenry. He pointed out that the nature of corruption is in the use, misuse and abuse of public office and regretted to note that we have a compliant population coupled with a corrupt Regime which has reached crisis levels.

He noted that the corruption we see is not the real problem. The problem, he said, are the leaders and that the responsibility of the leader is to create a culture of how society evolve, adding that the problem of corruption has been propelled by civil servants who are the technocrats.

Bishop Niringiye said there is need to look at the state interventions and this calls for ensuring that the institutions in place are kept breathing. He however noted that the current regime is irredeemable because corruption has become modus operandi.

Ms Cissy Agaba Executive Director Anti Corruption Coalition, pointed at the family as the smallest unit where corruption tends to begin. She cited examples of young people who offer gifts in exchange for votes in Schools adding that corruption has become so entrenched that some people think it should be legalised.
The vice may not be rooted out given that it is as old as mankind. What need to be done is address issues of values and morality, she said.  

The anti corruption crusader further said the problem can be mitigated if we implement our laws as a country. She observed that there is a mismatch between the laws and their implementation.

On whether there is political will to fight corruption, Ms. Agaba said the will is there but what we lack are the institutions or laws that are ready to bite.
She further explained that the Political will can be demonstrated by the doctrine of separation of powers.

On whether the civil society has been given space, she said Space has been there but is gradually reducing with some institutions threatened to be closed. She cited Fear as one of the greatest setbacks towards holding leaders accountable.        

Mr. Sydney Asubo from the Inspectorate of Government observed that the fight between good and evil is a difficult one because it started way back when Cain killed Abel.  He said elimination of corruption cannot be realised due to what is going on locally and globally, adding that it took long for the realisation that corruption is a global vice and only started in 2003 with the UN convention against corruption.
Mr. Asubo said the political will can be seen from the enactment of laws, creating and institutions adequately financing institutions as well as allowing the institutions to operate independently.  He said Uganda has one of the best legal and institutional regulatory frameworks to fight corruption. The problem is in the implementation of the framework, due to inadequate human and financial resources.

Professor Tarsis Kabwegyere said the discourse should help understand the phenomenon of corruption, and wondered as to whether people understand corruption and how it came about or not.                                                                 
He posed questions as to whether corruption is a political question, a moral, economic or social question.  He said if it is a political question, the regime can be changed. If it is moral decadence, there is need to look at the moral teachers like the Religious leaders who in this regard have failed because people do not listen to Godly messages.  

On whether there is political will to address the challenge of Corruption, Professor Kabwegere proposed that people look at the economy, resource availability and distribution. He asked as to why there is no talk of corruption in the private sector. He said  in developed economies, corruption is controlled by the market.