Uganda has announced new measures to fight corruption that is costing the country billions of U.S. dollars.
President Yoweri Museveni, while addressing the nation at a ceremony held Monday in the capital Kampala, said corruption was frustrating foreign direct investments and hindering economic development.
"I have put in place a unit that will be reporting directly to me, headed by Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema. She has her team and toll free lines. The public should not fear to call them and report anyone involved in corruption," Museveni said.
He urged the public to spearhead the fight against corruption because those involved in the vice are well known to them.
Among the new measures, Museveni said the property of those implicated in corruption would be confiscated by the government.
Museveni also noted that permanent secretaries in ministries and chief administrative officers at the district level should be held responsible for every corruption scandal that occurs in their areas of jurisdiction.
"We have very many educated Ugandans. Whoever is implicated will be sacked. Some of those government officials do not need to be taken to court when there is overwhelming evidence. We shall just send them home," Museveni said.
About the new unit, Museveni said it will be investigating cases right from the grassroots and then report directly to him.
"This does not mean the new unit is taking over the work of the Auditor General or the Inspectorate of Government. The unit will help coordinating the other arms so that there is quick action," he said.
The president made the remarks as the East African nation marked the anti-corruption day under the theme, 'Citizen's participation in the fight against corruption: A sustainable path to Uganda's transformation'.
Simon Lokodo, Uganda's minister of ethics and integrity recently told reporters that corruption in the country is now practiced in syndicates with high level of concealment.
"The corrupt have built powerful cartels to entice, intimidate and in some instances disempower those tasked to fight the malaise," Lokodo said.
A 2015 Uganda parliamentary report estimates that Uganda has lost more than 24 trillion shillings (about 6.5 billion dollars) to corruption in the last 10 years.
The 2017 Transparency International survey ranked Uganda as the 25th most corrupt among the world's 167 countries. The report ranked the police force, tax officials, and judiciary as the most corrupt in the country.
Lokodo argued that the vice has had a negative effect in the various sectors in the country for instance, health, education, economy, and democratic governance among others.
Museveni on Dec. 4 while speaking at celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of Transparency International Uganda put the blame on what he called a corrupt public service.
He said although Uganda has the necessary laws and institutions to fight corruption, the challenge is now with the persons manning them.
"The laws are there, the institutions are there but the personnel handling them are the problem. I don't need a frightened civil service. The country needs confident and able leaders who know what is right and do what is right," Museveni said.
Activists argue that although Uganda has laws to fight corruption, they need to be implemented if the vice is to be reduced in the country.
This article was originally published on XinHua Net.