KAMPALA – The Inspector General of Government, Beti Olive Kamya maintains that ordinary Ugandans should be at the forefront in the fight against Corruption and its tendencies.
Kamya, a former Presidential candidate believes Ugandans without political power are more affected by the impact of the corrupt practices – insisting that if services like medical care were dysfunctional, the corrupt or the politically connected can easily be airlifted for treatment abroad.
She noted that government officials like her who travel in four-wheeled vehicles weren’t affected by potholed roads as ordinary people.
The cautionary message she sent out almost two weeks ago has earned her admirers as others criticised her.
A video clip containing the message was widely circulated on social media. Some accused her of being arrogant by claiming that she and others can be airlifted by the President’s jet in cases services were lacking in hospitals like Mulago.
But Kamya seemed un-deterred by those that have ‘spun’ her message.
While addressing an integrity conference for Universities, tertiary institutions, and secondary schools in central Uganda at Nkumba University on Saturday she insisted that she would not apologise.
She again emphasized that the war on graft must be championed by the ordinary people because they are the most afflicted by the effects of corruption. She also said the citizens are armed with information about big beneficiaries of graft since they live in the communities with the ‘big fish (top graft beneficiaries).’
The conference themed: “Citizens must own the war against corruption was organized by the IGG’s office in conjunction with Nkumba University Integrity Club” attracted Nkumba, Victoria, MUBS, Muteesa I Royal, Kyambogo, KIU, and Ndejje Universities in addition to a host of other tertiary institutions and secondary schools.
Over six hundred integrity clubs’ leaders and students from the institutions attended the conference at the end of which participants positively responded to her calling to be ‘integrity ambassadors/warriors.’
The warriors were called upon to use all the tools available to support the war on graft.
Talking about the cost of corruption in Uganda, she said research indicated annually Ugx10trn was lost to graft where the country can only rise about Ugx25trn of the national budget. She mused about what this money could do to the 10,000 villages in the country if each got Ugx10bn of the loss to graft.
The ordinary persons, she said were the ones who in their villages saw and knew those in public offices putting up projects above their earnings.
The beneficiaries of graft, she said, were buying huge properties, carrying mega projects, marrying several wives, and living luxurious lives.
The warriors, she appealed could take pictures of questionable mega personal projects and provide information about the owners. Such information, she explained could be splashed on social media or sent to the ombudsman.
The ombudsman disclosed that their findings had been that the war on graft was not moving because the masses had not been engaged and were not participating in the war against graft.
Unfortunately, she said the ordinary people often, compliment the corrupt to the point of giving them mentions at burials for the big sums contributed in condolences, forgetting that the deceased lost their life because the corrupt official’s actions led to a lack of drugs in the hospital or led to delayed salary to the health workers.
The top officials, she said, often ensured they used clerks and subordinates to drain public resources without leaving their own footsteps or trail, making it difficult to pin the big fish in graft.
The Ombudsman also disclosed that though her office was most interested in graft in public office, there was also a lot of graft in the private sector, impeding the growth of enterprises.
Giving examples, she said often recruitment officers demanded sex from female applicants, and others demanded bribes to give the job out to a qualified applicant. In markets and big businesses, she said attendants sold bosses’ merchandise and went back to the source to replace the sold merchandise, thereafter reporting failure of the business.
The Nkumba University Integrity Club president, Amon Muhwezi said the conference had been beneficial equipping them with knowledge about graft and emboldening them for the fight.
Nkumba University academic registrar Dr. Frank Pius Kiyingi said the institution took integrity very seriously, the reason why every course had a module on ethics.