Increased corruption tendencies worry CSOs in Bunyoro

HOIMA – Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the Bunyoro region have expressed concern over the increasing corruption tendencies among government institutions.

This was revealed during a dialogue between anti-corruption activists and Hoima district stakeholders under their umbrella organization, “District Integrity Promotion Forum”.

The meeting organized by CSOs like Action Aid Uganda, Transparency International Uganda and Mid-Western Anti- Corruption Coalition (MIRAC) to remind forum members about their responsibility since it has not been active. The meeting is one the activities to mark anti-corruption day slated for 9th December. 2021.

While presenting CSOs position, Brian Nahamanya, the Project Officer at Global Rights Alert said, despite different laws put in place to fight against corruption, the vice is escalating.

He noted that corrupt officials have taken advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to engage in dubious deals because there is limited monitoring and supervision due to the lockdown.

He further says, the vice has continued to hinder economic, political and social development of the community adding that this has had gross impact on the most vulnerable poor due to increased costs and reduced access to health, education, employment and judicial services.

Nahamanya adds that, a number of human rights violations, compensation issues and environment degradation cases continue to emerge as the government acquires land for oil and gas infrastructure due to lack of transparency and accountability which breeds corruption.

Nahamanya also said, although oil and gas projects are expected to contribute to the social economical transformation of the region and country at large, issues of human right violations are anticipated to increase towards the oil and gas production stage if the duty bearers continue to keep a deaf ear.

“These challenges continue to worsen poverty and aggravate inequality as resources meant for the poor and underprivileged are diverted to the pockets of the corrupt,” said Nahamanya.

“When you look at how communities are struggling to access land titles from the district, the struggle they go through to access compensation, you realize the struggles the people of Bunyoro go through to access employment opportunities both in oil and gas sector and at the district, are from structural issues like lack of transparency,” said Nahamanya.

“For instance, when you see people encroaching on wetlands and they are not restrained, it is corruption because there is no transparency and accountability,” Nahamanya explained.

Ismail Mutegeki, the Executive Director of MIRAC said, corruption in Bunyoro region stands at 300% compared to other regions, adding that Bunyoro is having a lot of issues related to corruption tendencies compared to other regions such as Acholi, Lango and Toro.

He notes that, the increasing misuse of public assets, issuance of illegal titles, giving away of public land, commercialized recruitment of civil servants and mismanagement of government projects are common in the Bunyoro region adding that these are some indicators of corruption.

“When State Minister for Economic Monitoring, Hon Peter Ogwang came here, you saw what he discovered, some officials had projects on paper but not on ground, the projects such as boreholes in the district like Masindi and Buliisa were not there,” he noted.

Josam Tumwesigye, the Hoima Resident District Commissioner (RDC) commended the CSOs for the engagement and called on stakeholders to embrace the District Integrity Promotion Forum to address the challenges affecting service delivery.

Tumwesigye, who also doubles as the Chairperson of the forum says, the forum was initiated by the government to help in promoting ethics and integrity among public servants for better service delivery.

Although the government has established a number of institutions to ensure an efficient and effective way of utilizing resources, holding public officials accountable requires that we complement it with such efforts.

Dr Charles Kajura, the Hoima district Production Officer who made a presentation on behalf of the District Integrity Promotion Forum said, the district local government public accounts committee is facing a challenge of backlog of reports for the financial year 2020-2021 which have not been discussed.

He attributed the challenges to lack of adequate funding and staffing, adding that funding has dwindled from Shs 31.7 million in 2004 to Shs 10million which PAC receives currently.

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