More Talk, Less Action
In a move that reeks of political posturing, the Ugandan government has announced its intention to introduce amendments to the Anti-Corruption Law, all while the country continues to drown in a cesspool of corruption. The National Resistance Movement (NRM) Parliamentary Caucus, known for its dubious support of government initiatives, has thrown its weight behind these proposed changes. The NRM MP Caucus endorsement means little when the proposed changes remain shrouded in mystery.
Denis Hamson Obua, the Government Chief Whip and Chairperson of the Caucus, claims that these amendments are aimed at strengthening the fight against white-collar crime. But don’t be fooled by the fancy words – white-collar crime encompasses various financial misdeeds, including public corruption, fraud, and embezzlement. These are crimes that have thrived under the government’s watchful eye.
The government’s announcement lacks substance and transparency. It conveniently keeps the details of these so called amendments hidden from the public eye. It’s unclear what specific amendments are on the table, leaving the public in the dark about the government’s true intentions.
However, a 2020 study by the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) exposed the inadequacies of the existing Anti-Corruption Act of 2009. The study identified gaping holes, including the absence of a robust witness protection mechanism, which has allowed corrupt individuals to evade justice with impunity, defeating the very purpose of the law.
Furthermore, the report unveiled a tangled mess of overlapping responsibilities between the Inspectorate of Government and the Director of Public Prosecution, leading to wastage of resources and inefficiency in fighting corruption. It also highlighted the laughable leniency of penalties and the challenges in recovering ill-gotten gains and assets.
During a meeting that lasted five agonizing hours at the State House Entebbe, the Caucus also pledged support for the President’s directive to control interest rates. However, this move comes on the heels of a damning report by the Inspectorate of Government, which revealed a decline in the conviction of corrupt officials. It’s evident that the government’s actions do not match its rhetoric.
The Shadow Cabinet has rightly pointed fingers at President Museveni for his lack of political will to combat corruption, which has eroded social services for the citizens. The statistics are grim – Uganda hemorrhages about Shillings 10 trillion annually, equivalent to 23% of the national budget, due to corruption. Transparency International’s ranking of Uganda at 142 out of 180 countries in the global corruption perception index is a glaring testament to the government’s abysmal failure in tackling this issue.
The government’s promise of anti-corruption amendments is nothing but a smokescreen to hide its inaction and complicity in perpetuating corruption. It’s time for Ugandans to demand real change, not empty words and false promises.