The Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity, Hon. Rev. Fr. Simon Lokodo defined Corruption not as a cancer but an indicator of an ultimate degeneration of morals. He was speaking as Guest of Honour at the recently concluded Western Region Inter University Seminar themed, "The Role of Youth in the fight against Corruption". The seminar was the second of a series of such events involving University students that UDN holds in a bid to bring the youth on board in the fight against graft in Uganda. UDN held another such debate in November 2013 at Makerere University in Kampala.
Hon. Rev. Fr. Simon Lokodo addressing University Students during the Inter-University Guest Speaker Seminar held at Acacia Hotel in Mbarara, 29th May 2014
During the meeting, students from Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), Kampala International University (KIU-Western Campus), Bishop Stuart University and Ankole Western University shared their views about Corruption and other Governance malpractices and exchanged ideas on how they as youth can contribute to the fight to curb these social evils. The students also benefitted from insightful discussions by the Guest of Honour, Hon. Rev. Fr. Simon Lokodo, former Ethics minister, and Anti-Corruption activist Hon. Miria Matembe, as well as Mbarara Municipality Woman MP, Hon. Emma Boona.
The Ethics Minister expressed dismay at the fact that corruption in Government was not a one-man problem but a chain-linked syndicate between agencies and noted that corruption continued to thrive as a result of apathy. He said that Government is a group of entities and that each entity was independent in functionality and hence should take responsibility for its actions. He called upon the Civil Society to avoid the fallacy of generalisation by declaring the entire Government corrupt.
Hon. Matembe on the other hand castigated the Executive continually undermining the autonomous functionality of the other arms of government and noted that Government's continued interference with the functions of the Legislature and the Judiciary was a clear indicator of the former's lack of political will to fight corruption. She called upon the Executive to respect the other institutions and also facilitate them better to enable them perform their duties, for a corruption-free Uganda.
The Mbarara Municipality Woman MP, Hon. Emma Boona called upon the youth to take a personal initiative and decision not to be corrupt, following her example. UDN's Executive Director, Patrick Tumwebaze also challenged the youth to utilize the platforms in place including the Office of the IGG, Auditor General's Office and others to report cases of corruption in their communities. He also introduced UDN's toll-free sms reporting line as an alternative reporting channel.
UDN Executive Director, Patrick Tumwebaze delivers his opening remarks during the event
Seminar participants pose for a group photo after the event
On 16th May, 2014, a team from UDN and other Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) members met Mr. Kenneth Mugambe, the Director of the Budget Office in the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Developmen to discuss the Civil Society perspective of the 2014/15 National Budget.A number of CSOs were represented at the meeting, including; the Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) Uganda, African Youth Development Link (AYDL), the Anti-Corruption Coalition of Uganda (ACCU) etc. During the meeting, the Civil Society members presented a number of concerns, such as; i) Low allocations to the Agricultural Sector, ii) Continued low performance by URA, iii) Need for credit facilities for small scale farmers, iv) Worrying national debt accumulation levels and the need for compliance to controls by Government to deal with domestic arrears, v) Need for proper management of Proposed loans and contraction processes (the need to learn from past mistakes e.g. with CAIIP I & II) and vi) Need for more Local Government Transfers which are key forproper service delivery.
Among other issues, Mr. Kenneth Mugambe pointed out that concessional borrowing is beneficial when the money is used well and better returns achieved. He also noted that domestic arrears would be addressed within two years, with measures such as pre-paid meters for utilities in Government facilities being put in place. Mr. Mugambe further hailed UDN's campaign against the unjustified expenditure on Government vehicles and revealed that the Ministry of Finance, for instance, had placed a ban on further purchase of vehicles after an independent study by the Ministry also revealed that they were consuming a lot of funds.
The Director also informed the visiting Civil Society members that emphasized that Government had plans to organise quarterly joint press conferences regarding how public funds are being used and that Civil Society would be invited to these meetings. He added that Government was now tackling the Budget Transparency initiative with more vigilance in order to keep the public in the know. He called on other CSOs to actively participate in tracking of public resources.
On 2nd May, 2014, Uganda Debt Network (UDN) signed a contract with the Inspectorate of Government (IG) to implement the Social Accountability and Community Monitoring (SACM) activity of Transparency Accountability and Anti-Corruption component of NUSAF II. The Inspectorate of Government with support from the World Bank initiated the Social Accountability and Community Monitoring (SACM) Activity under the Transparency, Accountability and Anti-Corruption (TAAC) Component of the Second Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF II)in 2012. The SACM is a pilot activity in Uganda with the overall objective to, “build the capacity of communities to monitor government funded projects in order to enhance transparency and accountability.” The IG will work with Uganda Debt Network, as the lead of the Civil Society Organization (CSO) consortium, who were procured through a competitive bidding process.
UDN's Executive Director, Mr. Patrick Tumwebaze signs the SACM implementation contract on behalf of UDN (left) and Director of Programmes, Julius Kapwepwe Mishambi looks on as Secretary to the Inspectorate of Government, Mr. Bageya Waiswa hands over the contract to UDN (right), 2nd May 2014.
Training of Trainers
The UDN-led consortium trained Community Monitors and the Regional Managers from identified Community Monitoring Groups (CMGs) on their (i) roles and responsibilities, (ii) community monitoring, (iii) anti-corruption reporting mechanisms, and (iv) documentation of their activities. The training, which was conducted from 4th–15th May 2014 in Gulu town, was facilitated by the IG, World Bank, UDN and the Office of the Prime Minister. Two consulting firms i.e. Mango Tree and Grameen Foundation also offered additional training support.
The cosortium will also provide ongoing support to each CMG for a period of 6 months. The CMGs will be enrolled into the programme in two major phases, with the first phase (Phase 1) being enrolled in the first month of programme implementation, and the second phase (Phase 2) beginning approximately six months later. Each phase of participants will be of relatively equal in size.
The project is to be officially launched on Thursday, 15th May 2014 at Acholi Inn, Gulu by the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, and the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and the World Bank representative in Uganda are expected to grace the event. Other participants include other IG officials, Development Partners and the respective staff of the consortium.