Deputy Inspector General of Government (IGG) Mariam Wangadya has called on Parliament to expedite the passing of the Proceeds of Assets Recovery Bill, 2013 in order to enable the inspectorate seize properties of those convicted of corruption and theft of public property.
With most Ugandans clearly disgusted at the level of corruption and many politicians making the fight against corruption as their campaign mantra during every election, one would imagine no urging is required to pass a law such as this which would try to make corruption less beneficial.
However, it seems our political leaders are more comfortable talking about fighting corruption than actually fighting the vice. The result is that the vice has continued to grow and has now eaten up every edifice of public life. Uganda has the dubious distinction of being the most corrupt country in East Africa and holds its place among the most corrupt countries in the world.
Many laws to fight corruption have been put in place over the years with minimal success. We must, however, not tire to tighten the noose legally against the corrupt even when they seemingly still manage to get away with it. The proposed Assets Recovery Bill might, therefore, not be the magic wand that will deal the practice a fatal blow but it will go a long way in reducing the maneuverable space for those who engage in corruption.
But ultimately, the country will have to examine its moral outlook and weigh its ambivalence on vices such as corruption vis-viz the cost to development, human life and the future generation. And this is not just about the leaders who preside over the corruption but the ordinary Ugandans who applaud or look on simply because one of their own has also had an opportunity to steal.
Hopefully, when we are sufficiently awakened morally and as the cost of corruption weighs on us individually and collectively, we will take a stand and say enough. Meantime, any law that nibbles at the vice is welcome.