Moral collapse responsible for Uganda’s sorry state

Corruption, greed, social injustice and lawlessness, have become the norm in our beloved country. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

About a fortnight ago, I attended a wonderful wedding ceremony somewhere in Kampala which was graced with people from different classes of Ugandan society. I enjoyed listening to the words of wisdom, love, and encouragement bestowed upon the new couple. But I was particularly amazed, and at the same time taken aback by the words said by one of the day’s speakers - Dr Samuel Kazibwe.

In his speech, Dr Kazibwe, a renown media expert and a personal mentor of mine, passionately described the bridegroom as a well-groomed individual, with the morals and ethos that have become elusive among many Ugandans - young and old - in today’s society.  

Dr Kazibwe painted a grim picture of our country’s moral state and the dysfunctional mess in which we are. He explained that, if not checked, our country’s rapid descent into apostasy will undoubtedly lead us into a calamitous future.

With the current ongoing events in Uganda, I couldn’t agree more with the words of Dr Kazibwe. Corruption, greed, social injustice and lawlessness, have become the norm in our beloved country. And our sense of right and wrong appears to have shifted in the opposite direction.

Currently, not a day passes when we don’t read or hear of a major corruption scandal in a government agency. Indeed, our country greatly misses people such as Rtd Maj Gen. Mugisha Muntu and Bidandi Ssali, who, despite the various positions of power previously held in government, maintained (and continue to maintain) the decency, humility and simplicity of ordinary people.

These were individuals with virtues and moral calibre high enough to deliver on their job descriptions, without the desire to amass wealth for themselves, families or friends. But it is surprising that today, people of Mugisha Muntu and Bidandi Ssali’s nature, would be loathed by our society for acting differently from their peers.

True, one cannot blame the government for all of society’s ills, but there is no doubt that by not holding certain people accountable for their actions, our government has partly contributed to this moral decay. And mind you, all this is happening in the full glare of hundreds of well-articulated acts of Parliament enacted almost every month.  Our problems are no longer about enactment of new laws or amendment of existing ones. It is actually amusing that when the ministry of Ethics and Integrity recently approached the parliamentary Budget Committee over a Shs2.5 billion request to fund government processes of instilling morals and generating policies to end corruption, the request was vehemently rejected.

MP Fox Odoi described the government proposal as “corruption itself.” He was quoted by the Daily Monitor newspaper as saying, “This country doesn’t need any more laws to fight corruption. We have more than enough…If anybody tells you they need more money to develop policies, that person is corrupt”.  

As a country, we have become morally bankrupt and it is unfortunate that many Ugandans do not even realize it. We have traded away too many of our core moral values and commitments and all this is having disastrous effects on our nation.

In the eyes of Chinua Achebe, things have fallen apart and as a nation, we must do some soul searching and rediscover our moral and ethical roots. We must take time to rediscover the distinction between right and wrong.

We need to expose the moral bankruptcies of our nation. Our government needs to restore the ethos of responsibility in the citizenry, but starting with a change in the political process and direction. Short of these, we are bound to continually fail on virtually all fronts!

Brian Mukalazi, Country Director, Every Child Ministries Uganda.

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