JUNE 2, 2010: President Sending Mixed Signals On Corruption

President Sending Mixed Signals On Corruption
SOURCE: The Observer  (Kampala)
President  Museveni's equivocal remarks about corruption may send mixed signals about his political commitment to fight corruption in the public sector.

While speaking at the passing out of officers at Masindi Police Training School, the President suggested that even the corrupt public servants contributed to national development by starting investments in the country.

On the same day, during the CNN Multichoice Africa Journalism Awards gala, the President said that corruption was not a key strategic problem in African because he has known countries that have been near squeaky-clean but have still failed to develop.

This, coming from President Museveni who has vowed to punish those who have messed up with the national purse, and who has also established an independent anti-corruption court to try those involved in corruption, is very confusing.

True, these corrupt officials could have opened up businesses, constructed huge malls and, consequently, employed some people as builders and suppliers of building materials, but at whose expense?

How about those who have lost their lives and jobs as a consequence of these corrupt officials' actions? How about those whose life expectancy was shortened because officials diverted into their private pockets money meant to buy ARVs and other drugs?

Incredibly, corruption impacts most heavily on the poor, as it illegally diverts state funds from essential public services such as health, education, transport and policing. At its worst, bribery is an integral part of setting up or doing business and, therefore, is a heavy cost on all citizens.

Mr. President, we would like to believe that you said this in jest. For if you meant what you said, your message is bound to send mixed signals to the corrupt, those fighting corruption and the general public.