Corruption fight is Ugandans’ responsibility, says US envoy

Kampala. The US Ambassador to Uganda, Mr Scott DeLisi, has said his government cannot entrust the Uganda government, especially with its financial resources.

His comments come after the reading of the ambitious Shs15.4 trillion 201415 Budget, 18 per cent of which will be donor-funded. “When we go to the local level, their desire to improve their community is so striking. Do we trust the system? No,” Mr DeLisi said while speaking on Kfm radio’s Hot Seat show on a wide range of issues after the reading of the national Budget on Thursday.

“That (corruption) is not a surprise your government has acknowledged it, the minister of Finance did (on Thursday). I have talked to President Museveni and he acknowledges it. It is a challenge for everyone,” he added.

The US envoy, who was sworn in 2012 as the ambassador to Uganda, said there is not much foreigners can do to stop corruption in Uganda. “Where is corruption? I leave it to you. Foreigners cannot change the issue of corruption in Uganda. We can preach about it but to change it is up to you (Ugandans) to say we do not want this anymore and find ways of changing that,” Mr DeLisi said.

He played down threats by his government to cut aid to Uganda following Parliament’s passing of the anti-gays law, which was signed by President Museveni in February.

He said cutting aid would be to torment ordinary Ugandans, a radical move his government is not ready to make. “The basic responsibility for the wellbeing of people of Uganda is the government, but even if we got frustrated, there are people who need care, our engagement is humanitarian,” he said.

He said the US currently funds 13,000 health workers and employs 17,000 people in Uganda directly and indirectly.

The envoy also revealed that the embassy is supporting the civil society and Opposition leaders’ campaign for free and fair elections in 2016. He reiterated the call for term limits but quickly asked Ugandans to lead the way to these reforms.

“One of the greatest gifts that could be given to this nation is helping the nation for the first time find a peaceful transition to power and part of that is elections. We are not here to tell you what electoral reforms should look like but if you can develop an electoral process where people have confidence in it, that is a critically important step,” said the American diplomat.

He did not directly call for restoration of presidential term limits in Uganda but alluded to its importance in governance. “I haven’t had that conversation with the President but when we look around, generally we believe in term limits. They have worked for the United States since 1947.”

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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