THE YOUTHS HAVE A ROLE TO PLAY TOWARDS A CORRUPTION FREE UGANDA
On 4th December 2019, President Yoweri K Museveni will lead Ant Corruption Walk from City Square to Kololo Independence grounds to mark one year of State House Anti-Corruption Unit which focuses on fighting corruption. The theme for this walk is ‘A Corruption free Uganda-It starts with me’.
But as Runyankore proverb says that “Omubi taburwa kamogo literally meaning that even the beautiful has some flaws, a section of Ugandans is so sceptical about the walk and some opposition politicians have laughed it off as a jest. On several social media platforms, the discussion is still on, some young people misconstruing the importance of the walk as ‘’ legitimizing corruption’’ others are saying that most of those who will be walking are the most corrupt or they head the most corrupt institutions such as Judiciary, Uganda Police, Parliament and some MDAs which have been fertile ground for corruption to flourish. We can all understand and appreciate their cynicism but I think this is the time when all Ugandans from all walks of life, should support walking for a corruption free Uganda. Corruption takes birth in a society when its citizens fail to believe that the nation is a common property of all its citizens and the generation yet to come. Every situation, where you leave truth, you are giving birth to corruption, no matter how simple or how complicated is the matter. If so, you and I would have been corrupt at least once over the time. In Uganda today, more than a matter of need, corruption has become a subculture, a common practice, a necessary evil. Faced with this trouble people have grown used to it, it is part of everyday life.
Corruption is the main cause of nuisance around the world. By definition, corruption is misusing of the power for personal or private gain (Transparency International). Corruption stands for impairment of integrity, virtue or moral principle or inducement of wrong by bribery or other unlawful means. By every definition, corruption means the violations of the country laws, social and ethical norms. In short, it is the curse, which weakens the roots of a nation and that’s the reason why every Ugandan should be involved in fighting corruption especially the youths who are the majority in the country. The greatest wealth and strength of any nation is its youth. The future of a nation lies in the hands of its posterity. Benjamin Disraeli said, “The Youth of a Nation are the trustees of posterity.” The youth of any nation are its potential energy. They are the ones who are the pride of the nation.
Youth is highly affected due to corruption; they are discouraged due to inequality and immorality in the society, non-availability of opportunities, breakdown of family values, unemployment, poor or inadequate education, so first they become victim of corruption and eventually become the corrupt. In order to remove all these malpractices and ill deeds from the society youth should raise voice against corruption. “Youth is a spark which can either burn or lighten the country”, it is said. For the last two months, Iraqis have been on streets demonstrating against their Government accusing them of corruption and almost 400 lives have been lost and thousands wounded, these demonstrations are led by the youth and the Iraqi Prime Minister has already resigned. However, I don’t support this kind of approach, but there other organized and strategically non-violent actions which youth can use such as : civil disobedience; petitions; vigils; marches; sit-ins; Right to Information laws, demanding information; monitoring/auditing of authorities, budgets, spending and services; social networking and blogging; coordinated low-risk mass actions; creation of parallel or independent institutions; social and economic empowerment initiatives; street theatre; songs; comedy; and public pledges. I would encourage the youth to use Social media because it eliminates several obstacles faced in the fight against corruption and has many unique advantages. Social media allows anyone to speak up about his or her concerns and access information on corruption. Attention can be raised using blogs, petitions, video, etc., all of which can be anonymous. Another key benefits of social media are that it disrupts systems of corruption, strengthens citizen participation, strengthens campaign organization and capacity, wins people over, and weakens sources of support and control for unaccountable and corrupt power holders.
Corruption is one of the greatest evil that shakes the backbone of any society. If this evil is eradicated from the society, the greatest threat to development is over. Youth of Uganda can do a great deal in this matter of fighting corruption. The main problem of the youth in Uganda is that they have been divided by the politics, those who are pro government, find it hard to criticize government officials even if they are known to be corrupt, and the same with opposition youth who cannot denounce their corrupt opposition leaders. They forget that Uganda belongs to them irrespective of their political inclinations. They are the makers of tomorrow. What they do today will reflect in the society tomorrow. I always feel betrayed when the youth who should be fighting corrupt people are seen craving to take photos with the same corrupt people on functions. Worse still, youth are always on social media praising the perceived corrupt officials as their mentors and role models. To live in a society, that is corruption free, we need youth with quality, of mind and thoughts to put aside their political affiliations and unite to fight for a corruption free Uganda.
There are two main approaches to fighting corruption: the top-down approach and the bottom-up approach. The top-down approach has to do with developing and naturalizing new rules, institutions, and norms that target the “public administrative graft.” The primary weakness of this approach, however, is that the very institutions accused of corruption are responsible for enacting and enforcing laws against corruption. It is public knowledge that, some Members of Parliament bribed themselves into parliament, judiciary and Uganda Police have been reported as the most corrupt institutions. Therefore, those benefiting from corruption are much less likely to end it than those suffering from it. That is why we must emphasize the importance of the bottom-up, or grassroots, approach, which requires the mobilization of ordinary citizens. A large, united public outcry provides the force of change that reformed infrastructure alone can’t. So as we are nearing elections, I would employ the youth to use their numbers and vote out all those who are known to be corrupt. They should not be compromised by a few shillings from politicians. The youth must use all means to sensitize people about their rights, especially those who have limited access to such information, such as those living in remoteness and poverty. These groups are easier to take advantage of, and are therefore common targets of corruption during elections.
In Uganda Many people express feelings of hopelessness, especially since many Anti-corruption agencies and NGOs that are supposed to be fighting against corruption suffer from internal corruption themselves. These feelings of scepticism and helplessness are the anti-corruption movement’s greatest obstacles. Therefore, the youth should take a stand. The greater the number of people who speak up, the more likely it is that change will occur. No single person can take on corruption alone. We cannot and should not wait for President Museveni to come and fight corruption alone. Each of us should raise our voice and the resultant roar should frighten the evil forces of corruption. The Ugandan youth must recognize corruption as a weed to be destroyed from our midst and show themselves as determined to fight it and not be passive, we can, indeed, hope for a good future for the country.
Arthur Nuwagaba Mirama
Team Leader at OFA Leaders Fellowship