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Involve citizens in fight against graft

(Photo credit: AFP)

Corruption is a political, and socio economic cancer to building a strong nation. In Uganda, corruption is the way some people have chosen to put the national motto: For God and My Country aside to meet their selfish needs and interests.

The vice has complicated the moral cause of creating a better future for all citizens as it has undermined the provision of even basic services in many regions of the country. The current fight against corruption in Uganda excludes mainly the role of majority ordinary citizens. The fight is elitist!

Discussions on corruption perpetuated by elites represent corruption as part of the social pressure created by ordinary citizens on the elites. To successfully enhance the fight against corruption, government needs to involve both the elites and ordinary citizens appropriately.

On December 4, 2019, President Museveni led hundreds of people in a march against corruption.

This is a commendable gesture by the President. He has chosen the right approach to the fight against corruption; stigmatizing the evil instead of normalising it. For a long time, the fight against corruption has been politicized and polarised with no shared response strategy for both the ruling and Opposition parties.

More so, as a country, we have not clearly defined corruption. What other developed countries that we imitate define as corruption, in Uganda, are still acceptable behaviour and practices.

The World Development report 2015 defines corruption as the use of public office for private gain, and exists in many forms such as bribery, fraud, extortion, influence peddling, kickbacks, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, embezzlement, vote buying, and election rigging, among others.

As a country, our relationship with corruption is terrible. We call and defend those in corruption scandals as our own and we feel pleased to associate with them. We rebuke the faithful and challenge them why they are not corrupt! We ask them why they are not rich, yet those in corruption scandals are rich and free.

We have not highlighted the dangers of corruption from its simplicity to the broader sense, that is, from a herbalist selling fakes medicines, promising healing of all forms of diseases to the sick, to a corrupt government officials that swindle billions of shillings! In our communities, we jokingly tell stories about corruption as if they are normal practices.

For young people, their lenses and narratives on corruption are scary. Some believe that they rather steal billions and go to prison and exit later to enjoy their loot than sweat for a decent pay .

The President’s walk against corruption, and his end of the year state of the nation address can provide new impetus in the fight against corruption! His end of the year message reinforced the need to fight the vice. The President highlighted the danger of corruption to the country. The message is clear; corruption is not celebrated! The fight against the vice should however involve all citizens to embrace the fight in the country beyond the elitist focus and narratives.

This article was originally published by Ugandan Monitor.


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