By Mike Sebalu
Government has kicked off a midterm review exercise to assess the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS).
The five-year plan started in 2019/20-2023/24 and has one year left to end. The plan was launched together with the Zero Tolerance to Corruption Policy to revitalize the war against corruption in Uganda.
The policy is aimed at ensuring transparent, accountable, efficient, and effective use of public resources to attain the desired social-economic transformation of the country from peasant to a middle-income economy. The Policy also aims at strengthening formal coordination and partnerships between state and non-state actors like Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs), and local governments.
Others include religious and faith organizations, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), cultural institutions, the private sector, and media institutions to improve joint action against corruption.
Now, through the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity, the Office of the President is conducting a midterm assessment across all parts of the country to understand the extent of the implementation of the Zero Tolerance to Corruption Policy since its launch in 2019 to date.
The assessment, which started in Lango sub-region will be followed by Acholi, West Nile, Teso, Elgon, Kigezi, Rwenzori, and Central regions respectively.
With funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the exercise will last for more than a month, and thereafter, a monitoring and evaluation report will be released for the way forward.
In Lango sub-region, the assessment teams conducted meetings with different stakeholders from Dokolo, and Amolator whereas in Acholi they held consultations from Omoro and Oyam districts respectively.
Speaking in a meeting with Dokolo district local government officials, the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity Permanent Secretary, Mr. Alex Okello said the assessment is to establish how government is performing in the fight against corruption.
“I have been going around the country teaching about this strategy and Zero Torelence to corruption, and in 1989, the first Minister for ethics was appointed to fight corruption but they started putting in place other institutions like the IGG, so, that policy started work even though it was not yet compiled and written together but now is written as a book,” Okello said.
Asked about the relationship between the International Monitory Fund (IMF) and the ongoing assessment, Mr. Okello said the Fund is one of the partners.
“IMF is one of the partners, the fight against corruption calls upon development partners to do their part. But of course, there are some donors who encourage corruption,” he explained.
“l IMF provided the funding to do the assessment and government decided that the Directorate of Ethics carry out the assessment before the evaluator who will carry out the monitoring and evaluation on IMF behalf comes,” Mr. Okello revealed.
Dokolo district Resident Commissioner, Barbra Akech called for a witness protection law in a bid to give chance whistle-blowers to testify in courts of law freely.
“Somebody will blow the whistle and will be confident because he/she knows am protected. In a situation when witnesses are not protected, someone can burn our people in the house, somebody can go and burn our people in the house, someone can lay an ambush on the road, somebody can hire people to beat and force many to shy away from witnessing in anti-corruption cases,” Akech noted.
Mr. Eton Rashid, the Chairperson of LCIIIs and town council chairpersons in Dokolo district believes whoever is found guilty in corruption-related cases should be jailed.
“Sensitization should be ongoing and the people who embezzle the money should be taken for jailing because if they are left free, they will continue to eat the money and re-reimburse the money embezzled. Bonding and bailing them out of jails should be removed for those implicated in corruption scandals,” he suggested.