By Arthur Nuwagaba Mirama
When I listened to President Museveni’s State of the Nation address on June 4, 2020, I realized that he might have probably given up on the fight against corruption. He said, “our correct policy on the private sector, the corruption, and obstruction of many of our public servants notwithstanding, has also attracted a total of 5,200 factories”
This statement implies that the President’s fight against corruption has become futile and he has indeed accepted that a country can develop irrespective of high levels of corruption. This is self-defeating!
This must be a disappointment to most Ugandans and President Museveni who on 4th December 2019 led an Anti-Corruption Walk from City Square to Kololo Independence grounds to mark one year of State House Anti-Corruption Unit which focuses on fighting corruption. The theme for the walk was ‘A Corruption free Uganda-It starts with me’.
As usual, a section of Ugandans was so skeptical about the walk and some opposition politicians laughed it off as a jest.
On several social media platforms, most young people misconstrued the importance of the walk as ‘’ legitimizing corruption’’ others said that most of those who were walking, were the most corrupt or they head the most corrupt institutions such as Judiciary, Uganda Police, Parliament, and some MDAs which have been fertile ground for corruption to flourish.
Of course, some of us who support the NRM Government, we vigorously defended the walk and the Anti-corruption Unit, arguing that it was time to have a corruption-free Uganda.
But when the Parliamentarians dubiously allotted themselves 20M each to help them fight COVID-19, then the procurement scandal in Prime Minister’ office which resulted in the arrest of 5 officials including Permanent Secretary, some security forces and medical workers complaining about their allowances, RDCs’ getting less than what parliament passed, and some people failing to get food which they had planned for, I understood and appreciated the cynicism of those who were arguing against the walk.
Corruption takes birth in a society when its citizens fail to believe that the nation is a common property of all its citizens and the generation yet to come. In Uganda today, more than a matter of need, corruption has become a subculture, a common practice, and a necessary evil.
Faced with this trouble, it’s more likely Ugandans have grown used to it as part of everyday life. Corruption stands for impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle or inducement of wrong by bribery or other unlawful means.
By every definition, corruption means the violations of the country laws, social and ethical norms. In short, it is the curse, which weakens the roots of a nation and that’s the reason why every Ugandan should be involved in fighting corruption especially the youths who are the majority in the country.
The greatest wealth and strength of any nation is its youth. The future of a nation lies in the hands of its posterity. Benjamin Disraeli said, “The Youths of a Nation are the trustees of posterity.” The youth of any nation are its potential energy. They are the ones who are the pride of the nation.
Youths are highly affected due to corruption; they are discouraged due to inequality and immorality in the society, non-availability of opportunities, breakdown of family values, unemployment, poor or inadequate education, so first they become victims of corruption and eventually become the corrupt.
In order to remove all these malpractices and ill deeds from the society youth should raise their voice against corruption. “Youth is a spark which can either burn or lighten the country”, it is said.
However, I don’t support violent means to confront the corrupt, but there other organized and strategically non-violent actions which youth can use such as civil disobedience; petitions; marches; Right to Information laws, demanding information; monitoring/auditing of authorities, budgets, social networking and blogging; coordinated low-risk mass actions; creation of parallel or independent institutions; social and economic empowerment initiatives; songs and comedy.
Corruption is one of the greatest evils that shakes the backbone of any society. If this evil is eradicated from society, the greatest threat to development is over.
The youth can do a great deal in this matter of fighting corruption. The main problem of the youth in Uganda is that they have been divided by the politics, those who are pro-government, find it hard to criticize government officials even if they are known to be corrupt, and the same with opposition youth who cannot denounce their corrupt opposition leaders.
They forget that Uganda belongs to them irrespective of their political inclinations. They are the makers of tomorrow. What they do today will reflect in the society tomorrow. I always feel betrayed when youths who should be fighting corrupt people are seen craving to take photos with the same corrupt people on functions.
Worse still, youth are always on social media praising the perceived corrupt officials as their mentors and role models. To live in a society, that is corruption-free, we need youth with quality of mind and thoughts to put aside their political affiliations and unite to fight for a corruption-free Uganda.
There are two main approaches to fighting corruption: the top-down approach and the bottom-up approach. The top-down approach has to do with developing and naturalizing new rules, institutions, and norms that target the “public administrative graft.”
The primary weakness of this approach, however, is that the very institutions accused of corruption are responsible for enacting and enforcing laws against corruption. It is public knowledge that some Members of Parliament bribed themselves into parliament, judiciary and Uganda Police have been reported as the most corrupt institutions.
Therefore, those benefiting from corruption are much less likely to end it than those suffering from it. That is why we must emphasize the importance of the bottom-up, or grassroots, approach, which requires the mobilization of ordinary citizens.
A large, united public outcry provides the force of change that reformed infrastructure alone can’t. So as we are nearing elections, I would implore the youth to use their numbers and vote out all those who are known to be corrupt.
They should not be compromised by a few shillings from politicians. The youth must use all means to sensitize people about their rights, especially those who have limited access to such information, such as those living in remoteness and poverty. These groups are easier to take advantage of, and are therefore common targets of corruption during elections.
Therefore, the youth should take a stand. Each of us should raise our voice and the resultant roar should frighten the evil forces of corruption. The Ugandan youth must recognize corruption as a weed to be destroyed from our midst and show themselves as determined to fight it and not be passive, we can, indeed, hope for a good future for the country.
The writer is a team leader at OFA Leaders Fellowship and NRM Aspiring MP for Kibale East County 2021.