Published by Patra K on

Can the Leadership Code Act Sanitize Uganda’s Politics?

Father Simon Lokodo, Minister of state for Ethics & intergriy responsible for coordinating all government anti-corruption agencies. (Photo courtesy of PML Daily)

Parliament last week passed the Leadership Code (Amendment) Bill 2020. The Bill requires civil servants to declare their income, assets, and liabilities within three months. The Leadership Code Act has the potential to promote political hygiene if the declarations were to be subjected to public scrutiny.

Initially, it was only members of registered political parties and those on the salary scale of U5 translating into UGX 720,000 ($196.21) and above, that were required by law to declare their assets and liabilities.

The state minister for ethics and integrity Father Simon Lokodo revealed that all 40,000 civil servants will declare their wealth. The amendment requires all lower salary earners to declare their wealth.

The secret known is that it is the norm rather than the exception, for a public servant to be earning less than UGX 2,000,000 ($548) but own property worth billions of shillings. Primitive accumulation of wealth has been common practice in public offices.

The amendment bill further provides for verification of what is declared by the Inspector General of Government. While addressing the press, Fr. Lokodo further revealed that all public officials will undergo a lifestyle audit. The intention is to understand the source of money and spending that is not commensurate with one’s known earnings.

There is a sense in which the framers of the Leadership Code amendment Bill have appreciated the influence of money and incentives in compromising the quality of leadership, and the expectations of the public, in the country.

The leadership code amendment bill 2020 provides for penalties of all the public servants who fail to declare, making false declarations, and making delayed declarations. Political leaders and public officials who fail to comply within the stipulated days can face a raft of sanctions ranging from a caution to being dismissed from office.  

A newly recruited public servant under the bill is required to declare within three months after appointment to the public service his or her wealth. The amendment bill clarifies that the emoluments of leaders will be withheld until they comply with the request for clarification.

The leadership amendment bill 2020 is further seeking to address ambiguities in the current law. It provides for provisions of leadership code Tribunal to hear complaints of persons aggrieved by the decisions of the inspectorate.   

SecretsKnown however notes and reminds the readers that the current regime that has been in power for the last 35 five years is virtuous at drafting, legislating, and making good laws but the practice of implementing and application of the law is still terrifying.

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