Mr President, lead in fighting graft in totality, not piecemeal

Friday January 11 2019



Erisa Yoga Odoi

Erisa Yoga Odoi  

By Erisa Yoga Odoi

“Corruption is a cancer, a cancer that eats away a citizen’s faith in democracy, diminishes the instinct for innovation and creativity; already tight national budgets, crowding out important national investments. It wastes the talent of entire generations. It scares away investments and jobs. Corruption is just another form of tyranny,” - Joe Biden, the 47th vice president of the United States. Such phraseology is synonymous with corruption wherever it exists.
There are different shades of corruption in existence, although impulsively, economic-related corruption is what is more conspicuous and comes to the fore whenever corruption is mentioned. The different shades of corruption in Uganda include political corruption, bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, legal corruption, influence peddling and outright embezzlement. Political patronage, repression, police brutality and constitutional dictatorships are all forms of corruption.
The different forms of corruption are intimately interconnected hence feed into each other. Corruption, therefore, can only be meaningfully accounted for when treated with reference to the whole and not in piecemeal.
Political corruption, the use of institutional powers by governments or the powers that be, or their officials to influence political and other processes in their favour, sets the stage and acts as springboard for all other forms of corruption. When the political high priests who perform the sacred rituals of the faith, and have the authority to administer rites of the faith, do not have the charisma and resilience to shun corruption in all its forms, their actions literally set the tempo for all forms of corruption. A state of unrestrained political corruption is known as a kleptocracy, literally meaning rule by thieves.
Corruption in politics and legislature undermine democracy and good governance, reduce accountability and distorts representation in policy making. Corruption in the Judiciary tramples on the rule of law, while corruption in public administration results in the inefficient provision of services. Corruption violates the basic principle of social justice necessary for the centrality of civic virtue. It undermines the legitimacy of government and such democratic values as trust and tolerance
Effective declaration of war on corruption, therefore, has to take a multi-pronged approach covering all aspects of the vice. Evils like corruption arise from our never-ending greed for power and domination, and greed for wealth and supremacy. Plain human nature is naturally inward and selfish. As social beings, society is supposed to tame and trim us of this uncultured trait and make us objective and honest, but the deep rooted weakness of selfishness, greed and pride, which breed the powerful urge for supremacy and dominance, hold many of us from outgrowing this childhood syndrome of selfishness. We carry on the same show, perhaps inadvertently to adulthood and into politics.
In addition, we live in a world where we judge ourselves by our productivity and not by honesty. Civilisation and spirituality have not succeeded in pruning us of selfishness and greed, the ‘factors of productivity’, because we put high premiums on how we look at ourselves than on how honest we should be. Corruption eats away the moral fabrics of a society, giving birth to erosion of civic virtue, the de-cultivation of habits important for the spirit of common good such as nationalism, patriotism and posterity.
The reign of vices such as corruption in a country form a breeding ground for a state of hopelessness among citizens characterised by political and economic apathy. When citizens come to know that the votes they cast will not count, and the taxes they pay will line the pockets of the mischievous, or used to finance programmes intended to benefit the powers that be, where do they get the motivation for civic virtue?
Prof George Kanyeihamba in his recent narrative on the declared war on corruption by the President concluded that “on the contrary, all evidence available points to one direction and that is the current political system of Uganda is sustained by corruption and related known undemocratic devices such as nepotism, sectarianism, financial strings, intimidation and coercion”. If this is the case, can we expect the same system to chop the very hand that feeds it?
We need a paradigm shift in the way we conduct the affairs of this country. The mindset that has brought us where we are today, unfortunately, can never get us out. Leaders need to be seen to practice what they preach.

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