By Ronald Musoke
This year’s Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index has seen Uganda drop ten places from last year’s 130th position with a point’s score of 26 out of a possible 100.
The index – an annual global aggregate catalogue captures perceptions of corruption in the public sector and this year’s edition scored and ranked 177 countries and territories from around the world on the perceived level of corruption in the public sector.
The index aggregates data from a number of sources such as the World Bank, the Africa Development Bank, and the World Economic Forum.
A catalogue of corruption scandals that saw donors pull out of funding this year’s budget are responsible for the Uganda’s dismal performance, said Peter Wandera, Transparency International- Uganda’s executive director at the launch of the report at their office in Ntinda, a Kampala suburb.
“It is not surprising that we have declined this year in comparison to last year,” he said.
The report which was published in Berlin on Dec.3 warned that the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery continue to ravage societies around the world.
More than two thirds of the 177 countries surveyed this year scored below 50 on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean).
“The corruption perceptions index 2013 demonstrates that all countries still face the threat of corruption at all levels of government from the issuing of local permits to the enforcement of laws and regulations,” said Huguette Labelle, the Chair of Transparency International.
“It is time to stop those who get away with acts of corruption. The legal loopholes and lack of political will in government facilitate both domestic and cross-border corruption, and call for our intensified efforts to combat the impunity of the corrupt.”
According to the report, corruption within the public sector remains one of the world’s biggest challenges, particularly in areas such as political parties, police, and justice systems.
The report said since corruption remains notoriously difficult to investigate and prosecute, citizens should strive to make public institutions more open about their work and officials more transparent in their decision making.
According to Wandera, the global perception index is published every year to raise awareness at the global level; provide incentives for the governments to improve as well as provide data to contribute to analysis and research.
Wandera said Uganda’s poor score should be attributed to the lack of interest from the government to fight the vice.
“It is common practice for government officials to brush off these reports as merely international reports [but] all leaders worth their salt should reflect on these disturbing trends,” he said.
Although Uganda has been praised for having some of the best laws and policies on corruption, implementation has proved a challenge.
Wandera says, this is breeding a culture of impunity among public servants and is slowly permeating into Ugandan society.
Patrick Kaboyo, an anti-corruption advocate who also heads the Uganda Private School Teachers Association said although the government has tried to fight corruption, it is not enough; more effort is needed so that Ugandans can see the desired change.
He added that government officials should stop telling people that there is political will to fight the vice.
“It should not be the politicians to tell Ugandans that there is political will; instead, it should be the citizens to tell the government how they see things,” he added.
Kaboyo said for this government to fight corruption, it must value humanity. He said it is high time Ugandans shunned the corrupt right from the LC to the presidency.
“Anybody who has a sense of smell knows that corruption in Uganda stinks,” he said.
If we want to make the corruption fight real; Ugandans should make it an election matter. Kaboyo also said citizens should say no to corruption and should stop glorifying the corrupt.
According to the index, when it comes to shunning corruption, Denmark, New Zealand are the cleanest countries in the world with a score of 91, followed by Finland and Sweden (89) while Norway and Singapore (86) complete the cleanest swoop.
At the bottom of the table are Sudan (ranked 173) followed by South Sudan while Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia are tied at the 175th position with a points score of 8.
Ranked 49, in East Africa, Transparency International says Rwanda is the least corrupt country in the region, followed by Tanzania (111), Kenya (136) while Burundi is the most corrupt in the region (157).
Transparency International’s report says corruption will threaten future efforts to respond to climate change, economic crisis and extreme poverty and urges international bodies like the G20 to crack down on money laundering, make corporations more transparent and pursue the return of stolen assets.