By Jonah Osike
Soroti – November 2021: Teso regional local leaders have raised mixed reactions regarding the challenges hindering the fight against corruption in Uganda.
In a meeting with the State Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Rose Lilly Akello, Teso leaders blamed a section of individuals in public offices for perpetuating the vice in the country.
Minister Akello, the Karenga district Woman MP was in Soroti meeting leaders.
Benson Ekue is the director of the Public Affairs Center of Uganda (PAC). He said, “Government should reform its policies that will help champion a move to zero corruption tolerance in public offices across the country.”
“We shall continue singing about corruption if the government does not wake up to change some of the poor policies that are encouraging corruption amongst individuals in authority,” he added.
To Ekue, most of the people in authority only mind about their personal gains at the expense of the local man at grass root level.
Teddy Acham who is the NRM mobilizer for Teso Sub-region questioned why investigations against perpetrators of corruption often delay, eventually leaving the culprits unpunished.
Acam gave an example, where government hoes were stolen from the Soroti City stores but to her dismay, they have not yet brought the culprits to book up to date.
“I don’t understand why most of these culprits are often left unpunished, investigations on technical officers have often been delayed and in most cases, they are set free with no prosecution being done.”
We should remember that between June and July this year, over 140 cartons of hoes donated by the government through the Ministry of Agriculture to the locals went missing in Soroti City stores.
Police personnel were manning the stores.
Paul Omer is the Mayor of Soroti City East division. He attributed the prevalence of corruption in Uganda to the weakness in government structures that often leave the culprits unpunished even when they are proven guilty.
Omer added that “nepotism amongst those in charge of recruitment in public offices is one factor that has aided corruption in this country.”
Oscar Greg Ageca, the East Kyoga Police Spokesperson challenged the public to ensure that cases of corruption are often reported to police for redress other than lamenting in silence.
“Some of you complain in silence instead of reporting matters of corruption to police or to the IGG’s office,” he told the meeting.
However, Fred Ojuka, the Regional Security Officer (RISO) called upon the government to strengthen laws that protect the whistle blowers in a bid to help expose the perpetrators of corruption.
“The law should guarantee safety of the whistleblowers because some of them may have the information but may choose to conceal it for purposes of their safety,” RISO noted.
According to a March 2021 statistics by Afro Barometer, over three-quarters (77%) of Ugandans believe that citizens who report corruption to the authorities risk retaliation or other negative consequences.
Godfrey Mubiru, the deputy head in the office of the IGG in Soroti said investigations often delay because of lack of credible evidence and information to prosecute the perpetrators of the vice.
From a religious perspective, Fr Jerome Agelu of the Catholic denomination called upon those in authority to embrace discipline while in service.
In her response, the Minister challenged the office of the IGG and other investigating arms of government to always follow up matters regarding corruption to the dot.
“We should not sit and watch people suffering, I want to request the investigating arms of the government to collaborate and ensure that we prosecute all perpetrators of corruption in courts of law.”
Despite the establishment of government agencies to deal with corruption such as Inspectorate of Government (IG), the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity (DEI), the Anti-Corruption Court and the State House Anti-Corruption Unit, the vice remains prevalent across the country.