Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has urged leaders of anti-corruption agencies in Africa to deeply involve victims of corruption in the fight against the vice because victims are the ones who most feel the pain and don’t gain anything from the practice.
“When you are corrupt, the pain is felt by the masses. It is the victims who can help you to fight corruption better. They have nothing to lose,” he observed.
The President made the remarks today while opening the 9th Commonwealth Regional Conference for Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa at Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort and Spa, Kigo near Kampala City.
The 5-day conference is running under the theme, ‘Time to Act: Prevent Corruption for Sustainable Development’ and has attracted delegates from African countries that include Botswana, Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Zambia and the host Uganda.
President Museveni, who at the same occasion launched a book titled ‘Tackling Corruption in Commonwealth Africa: Case Studies of Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius Rwanda and Seychelles’ informed the delegates that corruption is an ideological issue that stems from lack of understanding the problems of society that are oppression of man by nature and of man by man.
He added that the solution to the two challenges is to delve much more into the development of science and technology to help human beings cope with problems presented by nature and to put in place democracy that is fortified by human resource through education to deal with man by man challenges.
President Museveni further pointed out that there is need to empower individuals to expose the corrupt as opposed to succumbing to their whims. He asserted that the corrupt cannot sustain their looted prosperity amidst a sea of the poor masses as resistance will certainly emerge particularly from the youth.
Mr. Museveni said Uganda has two fighting groups that were a result of the counter-forces that were started in the 60s as a students’ movement against vices that were orchestrated by ideologically bankrupt forces that believed that when you kill you succeed.
He said that between 1966-1986, over 800,000 people were killed in political violence and in Luweero Triangle alone, there are 33 mass graves of the victims. He added the battle fields of the two wings that comprised freedom fighters who were mainly university graduates and the resistance councils composed of civilians were formed to counter the corrupt forces and a radical change was achieved.
Mr. Museveni informed delegates that Uganda then instituted agencies like the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and Inspectorate of Government under the Inspector General of Government (IGG) that were manned by officers who were selected on account of their integrity. Three other units, he added, were recently added to beef up the struggle against corruption.
The President said the most crucial areas in the battle against corruption include experienced investigators and proper tools, prosecution, adjudication and also coordination.
“In Uganda, the advantage we have is the two constituencies of the population and the Army that are not beneficiaries of corruption. That makes it a good starting point in the fight against corruption,” he noted.
Mr. Museveni said that for the Commonwealth, the issue of political blackmail, which is not allowed in Uganda, should be handled the way the African Union does not allow military coups on the continent.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, the Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, called for enactment of stringent laws to decisively deal with corruption that is still persistent in society.
“It is silent and walks like the devil in the dark. It needs a complete change of the mindset. In our society we glorify the corrupt, this should stop,” he stressed.
State Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Fr. Lokodo Simon, expressed optimism that by the end of the conference, strategies will have been adopted to decisively tackle corruption..He commended President Museveni for ably leading the battle against corruption.
The Special Guest at the Conference, who is the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, said corruption undermines the social and economic growth of the Commonwealth countries stifles attainment of their development goals.
The Inspector General of Government, Ms. Irene Mulyagonja Kakooza, noted that the delegates would be able to learn from each other the strategies that have been successful in the fight against corruption, share failures, the lessons learnt and chart out new strategies to wipe out corruption.
Other speakers included Principal Specialist responsible for Governance and Corruption at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr. Roger Koranteng who expressed hope that the Kampala conference will address challenges such as illicit financial flows as well as money laundering, among other issues. ENDS