Corruption in its varying proportions is one of the most endemic vices in Africa. As a result, corruption especially that perpetuated by the elites and those at the top has become a significant catalyst of Uganda’s current governance and democratic crisis. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Uganda ranked 142/165 (2014), 139/155 (2015), 151/177 (2016), 151/175 (2017) and 149/181 in 2018 indicating a relatively stagnate position.
The level and intensity of corruption is also evident in the significant amounts of public funds that have been lost to the vice. According to the Global Integrity Report, 2006, Uganda in 2006 lost an estimated $950m to corruption. The Global Integrity Report, 2017, noted that in 2017, the amount of funds lost to corruption was reported to have hit the $1b mark.
These were the rallying calls with which the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) took to the airwaves of KFM, Radio One and Capital Radio over three days in the month of October. On two of these occasions, a representative from the IG was present at the talk shows and on the third, it was just ACCU.
The talk shows were in response to an ACCU study into the two anti-corruption laws; titled: Assessing the Status of Implementation of the Whistle Blowers Protection Act & the Leadership Code Act (as amended).
Some of the findings or issues that stood out included Government’s failure to constitute the Leadership Code Tribunal, 17 years after the Leadership Code Act became law. The Government has also not enacted a Witness Protection Law to safeguard Whistle Blowers who in most cases have become key witnesses in corruption related matters.
The absence of a Leadership Code Tribunal has made it difficult for the Inspectorate of Government to dispose of cases, attend to appeals and adjudicate in arbitration. The report also indicated that the Inspectorate of Government (IG) has man power shortfalls and deficiency in skills to handle the complex tasks that the fight against corruption especially in the new age of an interconnected world presents.
It was also observed during this study that lack of trust from the public towards State Institutions had led to would be whistle blowers reporting to more than one institution and this had created over laps that had led to commitment of resources following the same leads instead of just one.
The Act also provides that 5% of all monies recovered will be awarded at the successful prosecution of a corruption related matter, but this value is not sufficient to cover the risks involved in whistle blowing and is thus not enticing enough for people to whistle blow, also the conditions for the payout are beyond the control of either the State or the Whistle Blower.
The Directorate of Ethics and Integrity on October 18, 2018 signed off on the Leadership Code (Declaration Form) Regulations, which would enable people to seek information about the wealth declared by their leaders, but these have not yet come into force, almost a year later.
The Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, therefore, calls for the full operationalization of the Leadership Code Tribunal, a rescind of the amendment to the Leadership Code Act 2002 (as amended) that removed spouses and children of persons to whom the law applies from declaring income and assets owned by them.
ACCU also calls for the enactment of a witness protection law to complement the current Whistle Blowers Protection Act and the establishment of a central body for the protection of whistle blowers that is trusted, independent and well facilitated to take care of the security of whistle blowers.
The Government should also enhance penalties for disclosure of confidential information provided by whistle blowers and Increase funding for the Inspectorate of Government and other anti-corruption institutions.