Fighting graft starts with us

So the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Uganda 142nd out of 175 countries, according to Transparency International. Transparency International says our level of public sector dishonesty is 26 out of 100. Denmark is the most transparent with a score of 92100 while Somalia is the most corrupt (8100). No country got the perfect score (100).

And more than 67 per cent of the countries scored below 50. The scale starts from 0 (very corrupt) to 100 (very transparent). At 142nd, Uganda is only 33 positions away from bottom placed Somalia.

This ranking does not make pretty reading. To show why we should get worried, read this conversation between my P6 niece and her mother.

Niece: “Mummy, give me some money to buy sweets so that I can give to my friends at school.” Mummy: “Why do you have to give them sweets?”

Niece: “If I do not give out sweets, I will not be elected a prefect, she responds”. This shows how far the idea of money for something has gone. From primary school up to university, everyone is fully aware that they must part with some valuable if they should gain from a vote, or service.

Favour is being coerced in offices, at schools and in the market place. The potential receiver is compelled by the actions of the giver. Contractors have to leave a portion of the contract sum at the coffee table in order to win contracts. As a result, service levels have declined.

Can we reverse the trend? Yes but it will require commitment from all of us, not just the leaders. We should refrain from pointing fingers in the direction of high-profile officials because we are culpable as well.

How are we dishonest? At our work places, we are contracted to work from 8am to 5pm, but we report late. Sometimes even beyond 10am. And we do not provide acceptable reasons for our late-coming. So we are being dishonest by cheating the employer, including issues of accountability.

We talk a lot about the billions of shillings that are being misappropriated in government offices. And we ignore playing our part to end corruption. We must start now to take little steps towards solving the problem. Talking alone is not enough.

It will require deliberate practical efforts from all Ugandans by being honest. Let us not focus on high profile cases of embezzlement it starts with little misdemeanours that can potentially grow to such high-profile levels.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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