Why name shaming is a viable apparatus in Uganda's anti-corruption fight

Author: Isaac Tito Wobusobozi. PHOTO/FILE/HANDOUT

What you need to know:

  • The corrupt are too insulated and untouchable by any of the state-recognized institutions.
  • Therefore, the burden to fight corruption remains with the common person.

The first half of 2024 has been punctuated by what one would term as some of the biggest high-profile corruption scandals of this decade. Most of these scandals were brought to public attention through a social media campaign termed #ParliamentaryExhibition- majorly on microblogging app X.

The campaign exposed parliament's big guns, notably Speaker Anita Among and former Leader of Opposition Mathias Mpuuga, as alleged participants in gross corruption and/or abuse of office in the name of handshakes and unexplained allowances.

Much as most of the named political actors denounced the allegations as baseless and which hunt by foreign powers for their role in adoption of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. Clearly, these allegations did not go without consequences. At a political party level, it culminated into huge tensions between the leaders of the National Unity Platform (NUP) and Mpuuga as a section of his party condemned his actions as illegal and against the opposition party principles thus calling for his resignation.

At the diplomatic level, we have seen major European powers and the United States issue sanctions against Among and her spouse Moses Magogo, serving and former minsters and their spouses for their participation in alleged gross corruption. More such sanctions are anticipated.

At the local scene, the impact of the exhibition was felt when thousands of Ugandans answered the Kabaka's call and turned up for the Kabaka's run aimed at creating awareness against HIV/Aids. What captured most of the netizens attention from the Kabaka's run other than the cause of the run were the tones of a section of the runners who used this as a platform for calling out the victims of the exhibition and publicly naming them as thieves. The same trend has persisted in the NUP nationwide tours where party president Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine has lyrically gone head on with his former LOP on the corruption allegations.

What we must acknowledge is that whoever was named in the exhibition remains innocent until proven guilty before a competent court or tribunal. However, one agreeable fact even by President Museveni recently, is that corruption and related vices are on drastic raise in Uganda.

Latest Transparency International reports put Uganda's corruption perception index at 26 in 2024 and 2023. This puts us just above Burundi, DR Cong, South Sudan and Somalia in the East African Community and 141 out of 180 ranks in the world with a zero score change since 2002.

According to the report, 69% of people thought corruption increased in the previous 12 months and 46% public service users paid a bribe.

As a country, we have put in place numerous institutions to fight corruption; ranging from the Judiciary, the Inspector General of Government, units created by the Executive such as the State House Anti-corruption Unit, Investors Protection Unit among others. This is not the mention national events organized by the state like the Anti-corruption walk and national anti-corruption days. All these seem not to yield significant and visible results. They have for various reasons failed in their mandate to fight against corruption.

The corrupt are too insulated and untouchable by any of these institutions. Indeed, one of the former IGGs remarked that the "big fish" always hide behind the president every time they try to take them on. This gives the impression that the institutions created to fight corruption are toothless and barking dogs that shall never bite.

The burden to fight corruption remains with the common person. This could be through welcoming sanctions, publicly calling out and shaming the corrupt at any opportunity, detesting and isolating them and taking the fight against corruption within the common person’s hands. If we chose to wait for the institutions to fight for us, we may have to wait forever.

Isaac Tito Wobusobozi, Lawyer.