What you need to know:
- So we must recognise that in order to defeat corruption, we must appreciate that economic and political corruption are the Janus faces of the same animal and must not be delinked by those seeking to rewrite the vocabulary of change to speak to the exigencies of self-preservation.
It was reported during the week that the Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court remanded Kampala District Land Board chairperson David Balondemu to Luzira Prison on charges of allegedly obtaining money by false pretence and conspiracy to defraud.
On Monday, Balondemu, with Joseph Ibona, an accountant at Bloom Advocates, was arraigned before Grade One Magistrate Winnie Nankya Jatiko and charged.
Although this development is welcome, in the context of official accountability, it is not something to applaud per se.
Arrests, in the past, have not served as deterrents to the corrupt and the would-be corrupt.
Instead, Afrobarometer, a pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life, states in a previous report that, “More than three-quarters (77 percent) of Ugandans believe that citizens who report corruption to the authorities risk retaliation or other negative consequences”.
The takeaway is simple: more is to be gained by Ugandans from living with corruption than by trying to live it down through a song and dance of arrests and procedural outcomes.
Yet government agencies established to receive our reports in this regard are legion. For instance, there is the Inspectorate of Government, the Office of the Auditor General, the Directorate for Public Prosecutions, the Directorate for Ethics and Integrity, the Anti-Corruption Court, and the State House Anti-Corruption Unit.
All these means towards redress spring from a variety of laws, including the Inspectorate of Government Act (2002), the Leadership Code Act (2002), the Public Finance and Accountability Act (2003), the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act (2003), the Access to Information Act (2005), the Audit Act (2008), the Anti-Corruption Act (2009), the Whistle Blowers Protection Act (2010), and the Public Finance Management Act (2013) (Gumisiriza & Mukobi, 2019).
All things considered, then, it is safe to say that the fight against corruption could be all Shakespearean sound and fury, signifying nothing.
At any rate, this fight has twin layers to it: the actual fight to end corruption and the keeping up of appearances with respect to the same.
The latter is characterised by a scrum of agents and agencies raising their ceremonial pitchforks against graft. All the while, those persons employed in these agencies to ostensibly do battle with corruption are products of corruption themselves.
This is because they are rarely employed for their competencies. Rather, they are given patronage sinecures aimed at regime preservation, not regime reform.
That’s why most of the individuals in these roles are cronies to those who are the established order in Uganda.
As a result, the many fixtures set in train to counteract corruption are now stumbling blocks to the fight against corruption.
True, too, the many agencies built up to collapse corruption might not be a case of official overkill in light of the longest way round being the shortest way home. So, in this vein, doing more to defeat corruption is often doing less.
That said, corruption serves other roles outside of sectarianism, cronyism and favouritism. It also operates as a bulwark against political reform.
You see, corruption is not only incarnated by economic corruption. But by a political corruption in which the ruling regime misuses power by monopolising to the extent that repression of political opponents spites the proverbial belly of change by slicing its neck.
So we must recognise that in order to defeat corruption, we must appreciate that economic and political corruption are the Janus faces of the same animal and must not be delinked by those seeking to rewrite the vocabulary of change to speak to the exigencies of self-preservation.
Mr Phillip Matogo is a professional copywriter