Fighting graft starts with us
Posted Thursday, October 31 2013 at 00:00
The East African Bribery Index 2013 that found Uganda leading the East African region in prevalence of bribery came with the usual dismissal from some implicated institutions. Judiciary spokesman Erias Kisawuzi, whose employer was ranked third in the country with an aggregate of 42.0 per cent, dismissed the findings.
This is partly the problem Uganda cannot easily win the war against corruption – a vice that is deep-rooted in our society, but we are collectively reluctant to tackle it. If Mr Kisawuzi has not read the report, as he stated to this newspaper, how can he dismiss it as “mere perception”?
The bribery index comes after last week’s Human Rights Watch report titled, “Letting the big fish swim – failures to prosecute high level corruption in Uganda”, shows political pressure and limited resources have weakened Uganda’s anti-corruption institutions and curtailed their ability to fight corruption.
Granted, some of these reports are not entirely accurate – the reason government officials and institutions mentioned in the reports often rubbish them. This does not, however, mean the problem does not exist and as a country, we cannot wish corruption away.
Though the latest East African Bribery Index, compiled by Transparency International, shows the likelihood of giving a bribe to access basic services in Uganda dropped from 40.7 per cent last year to 26.8 per cent in 2013, it is disturbing that Uganda still leads in East Africa, with the Uganda Police Force graded as the most bribery-prone institution at 60 per cent and having the highest prevalence of bribery at 47.8 per cent. The survey further noted a rather worrying development: the average bribe an officer will take is estimated at Shs900, 000 and that the police collect 27 per cent of the bribes that exchange hands in Uganda.
These findings are not the first, and will probably not be the last. What should concern us is the finding that 93 per cent of respondents in Uganda said they did not report the bribery cases they encountered. We cannot hold police and other institutions accountable if we continue giving bribes and play the victim.
Ultimately, these corruption reports can only be useful reminders of the level of corruption in Uganda. Fighting the vice is our responsibility. We must set a local agenda of holding each other accountable. Short of that, these otherwise useful reports will be futile.