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Is the inspectorate of government ready to fight corruption?

Betty Kamya, the Inspector General of Governement. (Photo courtesy of NilePost)

The Inspector General of Government, Honorable Betty Kamya Turyomwe pledged to take the fight against corruption to the people. “We are going to rebrand the war against corruption from being the war of the Inspectorate of Government & other frontline anti-corruption institutions to become a war of the people, we want to co-opt all Ugandans in this war,” she said. This was during ACFIM TALKs a weekly talk show hosted by ACFIM Uganda to discuss issues of national concern.

Corruption across the world thwarts economic, political, and social development. It equally constitutes a major challenge for effective and responsive political and electoral leadership. Public institutions including the police, the judiciary, and government MDAs are areas where corruption risks are very high and under-the-table cash payments are expected.

The Inspector General of Government said that her office is intent on re-strategizing to ensure that opportunities for corruption are closed off from the onset.

She stated that “..more attention shall be put to the function of detection and prevention of corruption rather than running after and prosecuting corrupt people”.  

She added that “If a thief finds a store locked with a strong paddock, he/she will not be in position to steal.”

Mr. Robert Lugoloobi, a renowned anti-corruption activist, equally agreed with the Honorable Betty Kamya on the proposed strategy of detecting and preventing corruption from the onset stating that it will actually be more cost-effective for the Inspectorate of Government as compared to running after the corrupt officials.

In addition, he mentioned that no one and no institution is well equipped to fight corruption on its own which makes it important to include the people (local citizens) in this fight against corruption. He believes that once these two strategies are well executed they can contribute to the desired change in all public institutions.

Another strategy highlighted by the Inspector of Government, Hon. Betty Kamya in the fight against corruption is the strategy of giving corruption a face. This will make it easier for the population, literate or not to identify corruption by looking at peoples’ lifestyles. “whether or not the lifestyles they are living are commensurate to the money they are earning”, she said.

During the recent swearing-in ceremony of the Inspectorate of Government, the President stated that “people are fed up with corruption; it is not a difficult job for serious and honest people. Your offices are infiltrated, start by cleaning it up and link with the public to collect vital information on corrupt officials.”

This infiltration is the reason for the declining public trust in the institution. Honorable Betty Kamya explained that the office of the Inspectorate of Government intends to improve and strengthen systems, procedures and increase adherence to rules and regulations. This will make it easier to weed out the incompetent and corrupt officials from the institution.

On the other hand, Mr. Robert Lugoloobi stated that corruption is existent in almost all institutions (public, private and civil society) and not only in the office of the IG. In his view, the absence of exhaustive background checks during the recruitment process in institutions is a loophole that has allowed the recruitment of personnel with morally tainted behavior. He emphasized the need for integrity tests and background investigations to be considered and invested in.

SecretsKnown observes that whereas corruption seems to have taken a more sophisticated dimension, the actors that engage in this vice seem to remain the same.  These actors seem to be well connected within the corridors of power, therefore, making political corruption one of the greatest challenges Uganda faces.

Political corruption is when those entrusted with authority to make decisions, policies, and rules are corrupt, in order to increase and sustain their power, status, and wealth.  It is a form of monopolization of power. The challenges of political corruption are exacerbated by weak law enforcement, which fuels a culture of impunity where corrupt individuals are let loose.  These individuals are commonly known as the ‘political untouchables’ and businessmen who are purported to be above the law and above institutional control mechanisms.

When asked how she will handle the individuals whose names keep coming up in corruption scandals, the IGG stated that;

“If a thief finds a store locked with a strong padlock, he/she will not be in position to steal. We need to padlock all avenues of corruption so that thieves can be prevented from stealing public resources.”

 She implied that she will use the tools at her disposal to detect, prevent, and prosecute those involved in incidents of grand corruption.

On the question of the existence of corruption within the various arms of government right from the lowest level, the office of IG intends to awaken public consciousness on cases such as these so that political, elected leaders, and leaders in supervisory levels are held accountable to their responsibilities.

According to Mr. Robert Lugoloobi, we are still facing a challenge in fighting corruption because we don’t take stock and neither review our approaches to establish what has worked and what hasn’t worked which needs to change.  

Recent efforts by government to establish and actualize the Leadership Code Tribunal were intended to protect and clean up public service under Article 235A of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 (as amended) and section 19A of the Leadership Code (Amendment Act, 2017.  

According to the IGG, the Leadership Code is intended to keep record of the assets of all public servants and persons in positions of authority to ensure proper accountability for all wealth accumulated and is made reference to as and when need arises. However, the office of the IGG is equally mindful of concerns around privacy of these persons and that’s why these declarations are not made public but rather put on file for future reference.

On the other hand, however, Mr. Robert Lugoloobi noted that there is need to rethink the purpose as to why the Leadership code was established. He further stated that it is important to draw lessons and best practices from countries where declarations of wealth for public servants have been made for public scrutiny and has effectively worked in ensuring that accumulation of illicit wealth is detected and confronted.

The IG conclusively urged the public to personalize corruption and be vigilant in the fight against the vice. She sounded the clarion call. “Join the war against corruption.”

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