Civil servants are corrupt because NRM allowed it

President Museveni displays a copy of the new NRM manifesto ahead of the 2016-2021 elections. PHOTO/FILE/FAISAL KASIRYE

What you need to know:

  • The issue: Corruption
  • Our view: The NRM-led government must walk the anti-graft talk, which seems a tall order at the moment.

Many Ugandans woke up to yet another nonsensical postulation after a cabinet minister claimed that civil servants are somehow to blame for the many failings of the NRM government.

Presidency minister Milly Babirye Babalanda on Tuesday alleged that what is affecting government work is intrigue, corruption, laziness and an anti-regime political posture in the civil service.  She falsely equated fealty to the ruling party with true public service. She was wrong to assume that civil servants have to identify with the ruling party.

Ministers ought to know that public service standing orders and associated regulations prohibit partisan behaviour in civil service. There are also the constitutional rights and freedoms of conscience and association which allow one to affiliate as they so choose.

Like-minded regime cadres should familiarise themselves with what the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy says in the Constitution on the question of accountability -- by those who hold positions of leadership and responsibility in public trust.

If anything, it is the ruling party which has terribly let the country down. Anything else is public policy bluster, which should be ignored. This National Resistance Movement (NRM) party has cemented its place in history as the most notoriously corrupt ever to hold office. Under it, institutional graft today costs this country Shs10 trillion annually.

Defending corruption is routine today. A recent example of this costly NRM-linked mischief was provided in the Karamoja iron sheets outrage, where high profile politicians have been shielded from prosecution. It is also under the NRM that Uganda’s electorate was comprehensively introduced to the vice of political corruption, including voter bribery and election violence over the barrel of a gun. The stolen by-elections in Kayunga, Bukedea and Oyam North yesterday speak for themselves.

Once the ruling party co-opted outright theft of taxpayers’ money as another form of (mis)government, we were down a very slippery slope. That is why our hospitals have become overcrowded death traps; why our public school system has collapsed and your potholed roads are now a colossal national disgrace.

Well-placed officials are commission agents today, looting the country through ‘lucrative’ public procurement deals, because it is ‘acceptable’. Not even the constitutional protections in Article 173, which shield civil servants from politically-motivated pressure and job loss, have helped.

Out of control Resident District Commissioners, who are directly under the minister’s purview, provide a telling example of how political pressure has contributed to corruption and intrigue in the local governments.
Also, for all intents and purposes, the NRM party has dealt a death blow to Uganda’s civil service, beginning with the bungled reforms/retrenchment exercises of the 1990s and the subsequent promotion of unaccountable political cadreship in civil service today.