By Stella Obel Negesa
Published: 10th December 2015
Yesterday, December 9, Uganda joined the rest of the world to commemorate the International Anti-Corruption Day. In Uganda, the Anti-Corruption Day is a culmination of a national anti-corruption week that commenced on December 2.
The civil society theme on, “Say No to Vote selling and buying” could not be timelier than yesterday.
Corruption has led to diversion of scarce public resources to private projects, at the expense of much needed public services including schools, hospitals, roads and clean water. Corruption therefore hurts the economy and aggravates the impoverishment of citizens, especially the poor and marginalised.
Tororo Anti-Corruption Coalition (TAC) routinely engages in community based monitoring of utilization of public resources intended for implementation of government programs, and social services in Tororo district. During the course of community monitoring, numerous incidences of corruption have been unearthed, which are detrimental to improvement of the quality of life of the poor.
For example on 1st December when TAC Monitors visited Tororo District Local Government Referral Hospital and established that mothers’ Mama Kits which are supposed to be given out free of charge to expectant mothers, were being sold at varied costs ranging between shs. 5,000 to Shs.30,000, depending on the status of an expectant mother.
Extortion of money from mothers, commonly practiced in most Health Centre IIIs and IVs, coupled with charges on mothers per delivery, has discouraged many mothers from seeking medical services from these facilities, who instead resort to unsafe delivery in their homes, resulting into high maternal mortality rate.
Another case followed up by community monitors in 2015 involved one, Odoi Alfred Peter who obtained goods by false pretense contrary to section 305 of Penal Code Act. He was taken to Court in Tororo and remanded in Morukatipe Government Prison Case.
On 31st March, he appeared before the Grade One Magistrate and applied for Court bail, and the condition he was given was that he pays the trial Magistrate sh2m which he then paid through the Court Clerk. However instead of being given Court bail, he was granted Bail Bond for his release. In September 2015, during a consultative dialogue with stakeholders by the Chief Justice to ascertain how administration of justice is dispensed in Courts of law within the Chief Magistrate’s jurisdiction, Odoi raised this case with the Chief Justice who promised to follow up the matter.
Still, another scenario was in Magola Sub-County, Tororo, during a training conducted for local Community members under the Operation Wealth Creation program, Community Members were told to apply for coffee seedlings enough to cover one and more acres, estimated to be 68 seedlings.
Shortly thereafter, when the seedlings were brought, the community members who applied for the coffee seedlings were instead given seedlings ranging from 10 - 50 seedlings. The delivery was contrary to the information passed on during the training. No explanations were given to communities about the variance in the delivery of coffee seedlings, much to their disgruntlement and confusion.
As we commemorate the International Anti-corruption Day this week, it is crucial to note that if government programs and service delivery projects are to have the desired impact in transforming the livelihoods of the rural folk, citizens need to be continually empowered to reject corrupt tendencies and practices in their communities, and hold their leaders accountable at both local and national levels.
The writer is the coordinator of Tororo Anti-Corruption Coalition and board member of Uganda Debt Network