Op-Ed: Museveni administration is against public interest over corruption in service delivery

By Lukanga Samuel

Well knowing that the world’s poor are disproportionally affected by the impact of corruption on public services, the NRM government leader is against public interest when he continues to verbally intimidate corrupt officials without sound punishments.

Reducing the quantity of public resources available for redistribution purposes, corruption in Uganda under the Museveni administration undermines the quality of services. This is happening in a number of ways. Suppliers are using fraudulent and lower-grade inputs in infrastructure projects and essential supplies like pharmaceutical products, equipment or textbooks to increase their profit margin at the expense of intended beneficiaries.

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Research shows that low-income households are more likely to have paid bribes to access basic services than wealthier households. Corruption in service delivery thus exacerbates the effects of poverty and may undermine the outcome of development policies.

Serving the public is a fundamental mission of any government institution. This duty transforms a civic ideal into a responsibility for government managers like the sitting NRM leader.

Globally, public officers occupy prominent and prestigious positions in their communities and society at large to offer citizenry benefits. However, individualism dominates today’s Ugandan public life at the expense of common benefit.

Ugandans prefer to work as NRM government executives in order to gain opportunities to pursue personal needs instead of promoting what is good for an entire country.

In almost all NRM government institutions, there is a natural tension between the interests of individuals and the interest of the group as a whole. There is a conflict between what individuals want and what serves their interests.

In my class of philosophy, economics, and political science, public benefit is either what is shared and beneficial for all members of a given community, or alternatively, what is achieved by citizenship, collective action, and active participation in the realm of politics and public service.

Public service delivery broadly refers to services provided by governments;-local, municipal and national to their citizens. As such, it encompasses the provision of a wide range of services such as healthcare, education, water and sanitation, identification documents many other services that governments or even entrusted private entities, like civil society organizations, companies undertake for the benefit of citizens.

Many of these services are tied to the realisation of fundamental human rights which maybe are non of the priorities in the Museveni Administration. Article 21(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, “Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country”, while Article 25(1) emphasises that, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control” For in some parts of the country, Ugandans are becoming refugees in their own country.

Certain forms of corruption in the Ugandan service delivery system such as clientelism, patronage, bribery undermine the human right of equal access to public services, and exacerbate fundamental inequalities that violate citizens’ access, affecting the most marginalised and underrepresented segments of the population the most.

Much evidence suggests that interest groups in Museveni’s government not only respond to, but also try to sway public opinion.

Moreover, rampant corruption is leading to breakdowns in the service delivery chains, rendering the state apparatus incapable of meeting its obligations to safeguard its citizens, with catastrophic consequences such as famine and lack of basic medical supplies in a number of districts.

The continued inability and unwillingness to curb corruption is therefore seen as a failure by the Museveni administration to adequately provide for human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural, as well as the right to development – by depriving citizens access to public services.

The Museveni Administration where an interest group is strongly favoring a specific policy, but is unable to convince decision-makers of the policy’s merits, but instead tries to have an indirect impact on decision making by mobilising and shaping public opinion. Victimizers are still doing so by using both new and traditional media, sending leaflets to households or even holding a rally un-confronted.

It is creating a greater divide and inequality in society as the wealthy can afford private services. There is, therefore, a compelling argument to consider the fight against corruption in service delivery as an integral part of the human rights-based approach to development.

Corruption in service delivery is most frequently encountered by citizens, and can plague all kinds of interactions with the state. By undermining the quality and quantity of public services, this type of corruption has fatally eroded citizens’ confidence in the Ugandan public institutions and ultimately undermined political stability, as reflected by studies that have found a correlation between civil unrest and low-quality service supply.

The Museveni administration speaking bitterly about corruption but supporting it in practice is primarily affecting marginalised and vulnerable groups, as wealthier, more powerful groups of Ugandan society are less reliant on state assistance.

As such, corruption undermines the “redistribution” nature of our country’s public services, distorts policy decisions away from the public interest and diverts available public resources into the hands of corrupt groups inside, outside and straddling the state apparatus.

The malignant effect of corruption in public service delivery under the Museveni administration is on the quantity and quality of public services—profound implications for human development outcomes and citizens’ well-being and quality of life.

Corruption in service delivery has been shown to have negative effects on poverty rates,human development indicators, mortality rates, child mortality rates, school drop-out rates, trust in both central and local governments, and civil unrest. It has also been revealed to have devastating effects on the natural environment, which in some cases can lead to food and water insecurity in addition to mismanagement of precious resources.

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Bribery and extortion at the point of delivery are rendering public services unaffordable for a large segment of our Ugandan population, effectively depriving the poor of access to key basic services they are entitled to.

After securing our future as promised, 2026 and beyond we call for a corrupt free service delivery system for the benefit of we, the common citizens.

For God and My Country, Uganda!

The writer; Lukanga Samuel (lukangasamuel55@gmail.com) is a social development enthusiast and an Ambassador of Humanity.

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