Majority Cabinet ministers Wednesday stayed away from President Museveni’s Anti-Corruption Walk, which started from Constitutional Square up to Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala.
The President walked with a few ministers and a handful of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party officials. The walk, organised by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit, the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity, attracted a number of dignitaries, including outgoing Church of Uganda Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, heads of diplomatic missions and heads of government agencies.
Asked to explain the ministers’ absence at the walk, the government Chief Whip in Parliament, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, said she did not know where they were or why they did not show up.
“I have even just come out of the Parliament where they [ministers] are supposed to be right now and they are not even here. I can’t say where they are and why they didn’t show up. Maybe some of them are abroad or have some other pressing issues,” Ms Nankabirwa said.
She said during the anti-corruption walk, many public officials made a commitment to fight corruption.
Mr Frank Tumwebaze, the Cabinet spokesperson, could not be reached as his known telephone number was switched off. He was also among the absentee ministers at the walk.
Speaking at Kololo Independence Grounds after the walk, the President castigated the government’s anti-corruption agencies for recruiting people who lack integrity to fight the vice. Mr Museveni said the IGG, the State House Anti-Corruption Unit and the Uganda Revenue Authority must move away from recruiting people based on mere academic qualifications but rather consider integrity.
However, he did not guide on how they will determine a person’s integrity during recruitment to consider him or her competent to fight corruption. He said most of the people implicated in corruption are those with high academic qualifications. The President said he has received many reports about people, who are mandated to fight corruption, being involved in corrupt practices. He said he was still gathering evidence to arrest them.
“I monitor your groups and the people who bribe you come and tell me. I do not have enough evidence yet to arrest you. But I know many of you are corrupt. If you see I have not yet arrested you, don’t think you are safe. I am just still looking for enough evidence,” he said.
Mr Museveni also said there is poor supervision in different government departments, which is breeding corruption. He singled out the police, which he said release suspects who are charged with committing capital offences.
The President also challenged political leaders to help ordinary Ugandans fight poverty, which he said breeds corruption because the poor yearn to acquire material wealth, which they lack.
During the same function, Mr Museveni said Daily Monitor newspaper has given him crucial leads to unearth corruption cases in the country.
“I sometimes read useless papers like the Monitor, by the way Monitor is a bad paper. I rarely read papers but once in a while when I read them and I see something, I follow it up. So there was a story I read and I tasked my monitoring unit to follow up and indeed they uncovered a lot of corruption. One of the things failing us in this war against corruption is poor supervision,” he said.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, said the corrupt are glorified and worshiped, thus escalating the vice. He said corruption can only be overcome with change of attitude and reorganisation of institutions.
“Mr President, the pretence in this country, the showbiz in this country; everybody talks about corruption, without identifying who the corrupt is,” he said.
Chief Justice Bart Katureebe made a commitment to end corruption in the Judiciary by ensuring fair treatment of all citizens before the law.
What critics said
Ms Cissy Kagaba, the executive director of Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, said the walk is “a ritual to celebrate the anti-corruption week.”
He said the President failed to make robust measures to fight corruption that has eaten into the core of service delivery.
“I didn’t hear anything new from the President. He has continuously said he knows the thieves but has failed to arrest them. So there was nothing new from him apart from marching,” she said.