What you need to know:
- The issue: Corruption
- Our view: Public servants should be held to the highest standards possible. Although, truth be told, every single one of us has to be signed up for this fight. Of course, the powers that be must take centre stage and be seen to fight corruption not by word of mouth alone but by how they live and govern.
Tomorrow, December 9, 2023 will be International Anti-Corruption Day. The United Nations General Assembly established it in 2003 to raise awareness about the damaging effects of corruption and promote international efforts to combat it.
We don’t need to look very far to see the effects of corruption in our society and the high price that we have had to pay for it. The misappropriated public funds and property, bribery at all levels of society, over inflated budgets, nepotism, that list is endless.
According to a recent report on corruption named the 2022 corruption perception index released by Transparency International in February this year, Uganda is the fourth most corrupt country in the EAC. Globally Uganda ranks 142 out of 180 The report ranks 180 countries and territories around the world, by their perceived level of public sector corruption.
In Uganda, Uganda Police, Judiciary, tax services and land services are some of the sectors where corruption thrives the most.
In many of these spaces, corruption is so rampant that it is normalized and even applauded with some corrupt officials being hailed as being ‘smart or sharp’. Corruption has sunk its teeth deep into our core and it seems impossible to get rid of it. Every day comes with a corruption scandal of its own. Each much more sordid than the previous.
Yes the government and other stakeholders have tried to tag the monstrosity that is corruption. We have seen some public servants and other members of society arrested and taken to court over corruption related offences but a problem this big can only be successfully dealt with with equally big or even bigger artillery lest we find ourselves stuck in a rut and only coming away with crumbs to foolishly pat ourselves on the back for a job well-done.
Just this week, the head of Public Service Commission, and secretary to Cabinet Lucy Nakyobe Mbonye warned district service commission chairpersons against recruiting their family members and friends into public service at the expense of other competent job seekers. She said this undermines principles of transparency, competence and fairness. (“Stop nepotism in Public Service says Nakyobe”, Daily Monitor December 7, 2023)
Ms Nakyobe is right on the money. Public servants should be held to the highest standards possible. Although, truth be told, every single one of us has to be signed up for this fight.
Of course, the powers that be must take centre stage and be seen to fight corruption not by word of mouth alone but by how they live and govern. Then perhaps we can begin to boast of any meaningful progress in this noble fight.