Fighting Corruption in Uganda: A call to action

By Frank Mulekwa (My Opinion)

Corruption has become a pervasive and crippling problem in Uganda, affecting many aspects of life. To combat this scourge, I propose a multi-faceted approach that includes harsh penalties for those found guilty of corrupt practices.

Firstly, suspects accused of corruption should be denied court bail and held in detention until their trial, as initially proposed by President Museveni. It’s worth noting that each time the President proposes a law that would benefit the public, the opposition, backed by foreign sponsors, vehemently opposes it, claiming it’s targeting them.

Denying court bail would prevent accused individuals from fleeing or tampering with evidence, deterring others who might consider engaging in corrupt activities. It would prevent them from using embezzled funds to hire good lawyers or bribe and compromise judges and law enforcement officers. For instance, a person who steals 10 billion shillings can easily compromise a judge who earns 30 or 40 million shillings, including intimidation with death threats.

In severe cases, corruption should carry the ultimate death penalty – reserved for extreme cases involving large sums of money or significant abuse of power, just like in China, Singapore, and other countries with a strong anti-corruption stance.

I propose introducing lifestyle auditing to combat corruption, as previously suggested by IGG Hon Beti Kamya. This involves scrutinizing the assets and lifestyles of public officials to ensure they are proportionate to their emoluments. Anyone found living a lifestyle far beyond their means, with no plausible explanation, should be investigated and prosecuted accordingly. While President Museveni initially expressed concerns that embezzlers might invest their loot abroad, I believe this risk can be mitigated by working with foreign governments to trace and recover stolen assets. Moreover, the recent trend of foreign countries seizing bank accounts and properties of embezzlers should serve as a deterrent.

Life imprisonment should also be considered for corruption-related offenses, along with the forfeiture of assets obtained through corrupt means. Fines should be proportionate to the severity of the offense, and those found guilty should be removed from public office and disqualified from holding any future public office. Currently, the law is too weak to fight corruption in Uganda effectively. A person is awarded bail, uses the funds to win the case, and the government compensates them in damages – more money than they stole – on top of what they stole, making the taxpayer suffer double jeopardy.

Take, for instance, the recent arrests of MPs suspected of embezzling billions. If they are released on bail, it would be a waste of time, as they will use the loot to manipulate and compromise the whole situation to their advantage. In my opinion, they should be denied bail until the case is concluded, and if found guilty, they should be severely punished. Let their arrest be a lesson and sign that the state is now serious about fighting corruption.

I was listening to Basajja Mivule’s social media video, where he suggested extreme measures to tackle corruption, including publicly executing embezzlers by beheading. While his method may seem brutal, I partially agree with his sentiment. He could have presented them comically but if such a drastic approach is what it takes to eradicate corruption, then so be it. As long as it is applied through formal channels.

Some might say he’s a reincarnation of Caligula, the notorious Roman Emperor known for his cruel and sadistic ways. While that might be an exaggeration, Basajja’s unapologetic stance against corruption does evoke a sense of urgency and frustration, reminiscent of Caligula’s ruthless tactics.

By implementing these measures, we can send a strong message that corruption will no longer be tolerated in Uganda. It’s time for us to take a stand and fight against this cancer that has plagued our country for far too long.

We must work together to create a society where corruption is not tolerated, and those who engage in corrupt activities face the brutal force of the law, just like in countries such as China, Russia, South Korea, Indonesia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, which have taken a strong stance against corruption.

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