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Ugandans say corruption has gone up over the last year - Afro barometer survey

Ugandan citizens are increasingly unhappy about the way their democracy is working. Majority of Ugandans (63%) share a perception that corruption has increased a lot in the previous 12 months and believe it is getting worse. This is according to the recent Afrobarometer special democracy summit survey on Africa.

The survey, which was conducted in 34 African countries in 2019–2021, ranks Uganda as 17th in countries whose citizens feel corruption has increased over the past 12 months. Gabon tops the list, with 82% of its citizens feeling that corruption has increased. The others are Mali, Lesotho, Eswatini, Liberia, Mauritius, Lesotho, Kenya, and Guinea, among others.

Tanzania is at the bottom of the pile, with only 8% of its citizens feeling that corruption has increased over the past 12 months. Rwanda is not among the 34 African countries that were surveyed.

In October 2021, the Inspector General of Government (IGG), Hon. Betty Olive Kamya, submitted to Parliament the Integrity Survey Report, which shows that Uganda loses over UGX 20 trillion ($5.63 billion) through corruption annually. This represents 44% of the country’s annual budget for the financial year 2021/2021.

It further means among others that 44% of the lives were lost because someone stole money intent for procurement of medicines, 44% of the children denied of their right to quality education, 44% of citizens who are condemned to povertybecause funds intended for wealth creation were stolen, and 44% opportunities for economic progress missed.

Public procurement is the most common form of corruption in Uganda, accounting for most of the public funds lost through corruption, especially at national level. This statement is corroborated by the revelations from the monitoring mission of the state minister for Economic Monitoring, Hon. Peter Ogwang, who has unearthed corruption in the form of shoddy infrastructure projects.

To date, none of the contractors that delivered the substandard public works exposed by Hon. Ogwang, has been blacklisted by the Public Procurement and Disposal of public Assets Authority (PPDA). The District Engineers and Chief Administrative Officers that superintended over the looting in public procurement are yet to be sanctioned. The ordinary Ugandan watches in awe and anger as the elected leaders remain bystanders.

The Afrobarometer report (2021) suggests that as people see levels of corruption rising in their key governing institutions, and the impunity enjoyed by the corrupt public officers and political leaders, they grow increasingly dissatisfied with their democracy.

When corruption pervades public institutions to the core, it distorts service delivery and the citizens fail to see the use of elected leaders. A democracy that does not translate into improvement in peoples livelihoods defeats the very essence of elections.

It is not a coincidence that the countries where perceived corruption has increased over the last 12 months, are also the very countries that are being confronted by governance challenges.

The Afrobarometer study further found that while many factors drive citizens’ disenchantment with the way democracy works, the increasing perceptions of escalating corruption play a major role. Until corruption is addressed, the ordinary African citizen will be unlikely to consider electoral democracy as a viable system of governance.

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