Understaffing Is Hindering Our Fight Against Graft

Understaffing is hindering our fight against graft
Appeared in The New Visionon 19 Jun 2019

KAMPALA - The fight against corruption in Uganda has become a complex battle. Even with a myriad of solutions and agencies put forward to combat it, the vice has adamantly hooked itself into the Ugandan social, political and economic system.

According to Justice Lawrence Gidudu of the Anti- Corruption Court, this is because corruption metamorphoses into many forms like an amoeba; hence needing almost every option available to get rid of it.

However, according to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Inspectorate of government, the fight against corruption in Uganda has been mostly frustrated by the lack of enough staff to detect, investigate, prosecute and convict persons engaged in corruption.

In her speech during a dialogue on enhancing collective action in Uganda's anti-corruption response; held at Hotel Africana on Wednesday, the Inspector General of Government, Justice Irene Mulyagonja pointed out understaffing as one of the hugest challenges her office has had to deal with.

“Many people in Uganda do not consider the fact that the Inspectorate of Government is three institutions in one. Our neighbours in Kenya have the office of the Ombudsman and the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission. Those two do what the IG does in Uganda. But they have separate budgets and staff and I also want to assure you that they are better remunerated than us,” she stated.

Justice Mulyagonja also added, “Tanzania has three institutions doing the kind of work we do. They have one which deals with leadership issues, another dealing in anti-corruption, another as the ombudsman. The Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) alone has 4000 employees to deal with anti-corruption.”

She also gave the example of Hong Kong, where during a visit she learnt that they have 1200 people employed to educate the public about anti-corruption.

“Given what we have as an institution, playing all the three roles, we have only 250 technical staff. These are divided among the 16 districts in which we operate. We have 23 prosecutors who do our work at the anti-corruption court. With this staffing, we are expected to complete at least 50 prosecutions per year, which we must not lose because that in itself comes with consequences including loss of credibility,” she explained.

This concern was reiterated by Justice Mike Chibita, the DPP who said, “As anti-corruption agencies, we all would desire to focus on preventing corruption from happening but we have resource constraints – both human and financial. And unlike civil society, our budgets only cover hunting and treating the vice. We are not given budget and human resources to go preventive.”

He added that this is why all stakeholders in the fight against corruption are welcomed since the vice has become so sophisticated with time and hence requires a lot of resources to be completely dealt with.