By Fred Kiva
KAMPALA. President Yoweri Museveni says he is set to announce new measures, in renewed fight against graft.
Officiating at the Transparency International Uganda Chapter 25th anniversary celebrations on Tuesday, the President admitted that there is corruption in Uganda, saying it dates back to colonial days.
“On Monday December 10th, I will announce new measures and the direction we shall take in our renewed fight against corruption,” the President said.
“That said, there is corruption in Uganda. It stems from the colonial times. However, when we undertook the liberation struggle of this country, there were more pressing problems than corruption,” he added.
The President listed pressing problems such as extra-judicial killings by the state actors, lack of the democracy and economic slump among others as those that required to be tackled first.
“These were; extra-judicial killings by state actors between 1966 to 1986. We lost about 800,000 people in that period. Luweero Triangle alone saw about 300,000 people killed. There was the problem of no democracy. After holding elections in April 1962, the next elections were in 1980 and they were bad elections. It was a whole 18 years of no elections,” the President said.
He observed that because of the pressing challenges, “we then had the collapse of infrastructure. Uganda had one electricity station, built by the British with a capacity of 150MW but was only producing 60MW by 1986.”
When the revolution succeeded, we had few intellectuals. Most of our fighters were peasants or those who had dropped out of school early. The only institution we immediately reformed was the army--where we created the UPDF and destroyed the old armies, the President said.
“Today, whenever any researcher asks what institution the public trusts, the UPDF comes out on top. Those fighting corruption must look at the army as the nucleus of this struggle,” he observed.
Mr. Museveni noted however that after changing the army “the other institutions like the Civil service, the Judiciary, the Education system and others stayed as we had inherited them. Had we, for example, dismissed the civil servants, we would have created problems and isolated ourselves.”
The President said that his leadership made an error to assume that elected leaders would diligently serve, yet they joined the corrupt group.
“We also made the mistake of assuming that elected leaders would diligently serve in their people's interests. We gave people power to elect leaders, who instead of offering oversight have joined the corrupt class,” he noted adding,
“However, corruption will now be defeated. The corrupt civil servants have exposed themselves. The population is angry with them. Also, we now have more educated young people. The pool from which to pick their replacements has grown.”
The President’s tough statements on corruption come at a time when top officials at Bank of Uganda are being probed by the Parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) over fraudulent closure and sale of seven banks.
“I was also told that poor remuneration fueled corruption but even in agencies like URA, Bank of Uganda, Kampala Capital City Authority, where the pay is competitive, there exists corruption,” the President wondered.