By Adella Agaba
In the words of a re-known publisher Jeremy Pope in “Countering Corruption”, Corruption is the enemy of progress. Corrupt leaders cling to power, opposing efforts to open government, curbing personal freedoms and abusing human rights. Corruption, too, undermines prospects for sustainable development. Achieving sustainable development requires the presence of a number of features. First, it demands prudent, rational and far-sighted decision-making. Second, it requires the best use being made of available resources.
Third, it needs a principled leadership which enjoys the understanding and support of the people. Decisions are taken that are irrational, shortsighted and motivated by greed and not by need. Resources are squandered as projects are approved not on the basis of their suitability but on the returns which may yield to the decision makers. And corrupt administration quickly loses the confidence of its people, who are then gripped by cynicism and rendered immune to leadership.
According to the National Strategy to Fight Corruption and Rebuild Ethics and Integrity in Public Office 2004 –07, corruption in Uganda has become endemic and systemic. The 2011 Annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) of Transparency International ranked Uganda 143rd out of 182 countries with a score of 2.4. Previous compilations of the index indicate that despite slight improvements in Uganda’s ratings, public opinion perceives corruption as widespread and on the rise, with scores ranging from 2.2 to 2.4 between 2002 and 2011.
Uganda’s CPI score has remained dismally below 3.0 per cent suggesting that citizens believe corruption is rife and that not much impact is being felt in national efforts to effectively fight corruption in the effort to ensure transparency and accountability. Transparency International Annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in December 2012 still ranked Uganda as one of the most corrupt countries being the 130th out of 174 countries having declined from the 143rd ranking in 2011.
Corruption continues to be a major concern to the people of Uganda and the various stakeholders as it undermines good governance, socio-economic development and service delivery because it results into diversion of public or corporate resources to private use; and above all, it increases the cost of public service delivery and implementation of public projects, and has the potential to lead to political instability.
Public service delivery and use of public assets like government vehicles for private work in Uganda is characterised by inefficiency, gross mismanagement and negligence in the delivery of essential social services to citizens. This is one form of abuse of office when a government vehicle is used for activities outside the assignments it’s meant to accomplish.
Under the Public Service Standing Orders, Government property means resources owned by Government or in the custody or care of Government which include monies, inventories, property, assets, loans and investments. In this case, every Government Officer is personally and pecuniary responsible for Government property under his or her control or custody.
A public officer shall safeguard public property or assets entrusted to him or her and shall ensure that no damage, loss or misappropriation occurs in the process of procurement, storage, utilization and disposal. Hence the management of all Government properties in a given Ministry, Department or Local Government is the direct responsibility of the Responsible Officer, who shall make arrangements for the maintenance of such properties.
In the case of government vehicles; all vehicles shall not be driven outside official working hours without authority of the Responsible Officer; and where a vehicle is required for official use outside official working hours and on weekends, the Responsible Officer may grant authority in writing for a specified period of time and shall ensure that the authority is not misused; Therefore, a driver shall not carry unauthorised passengers and goods in a Government vehicle.
Contrary to this, the officer in charge of the vehicle at the time should be liable for the mismanagement of government property, and misappropriation of public funds considering vehicles in this case are maintained by tax payers’ money and in the end affecting service delivery. It’s the duty of every public officer to respect government property and use it according to the public service standing orders for transparency and accountability. Use of government vehicles to ferry charcoal and items of the same calibre is unacceptable!
The writer is the Programme Assistant
Uganda Debt Network