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Corruption: A Cancerous Barrier to Development

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Ojiambo Steven Odemo

Corruption, a pervasive scourge, has entrenched itself in various spheres of global development, with developing countries bearing the brunt. Uganda, ranked fragile by the Fragile States Index, is no exception. This cancerous vice, defined by Rose Ackerman as “the misuse of public office for private gain,” has ravaged critical sectors, hindering progress and perpetuating inequality.

In Uganda, corruption is regulated by the Anti-Corruption Act (2009), yet, despite this legislation, both private and governmental individuals continue to engage in corrupt practices with impunity. The Health, Education, Environment, and Infrastructure sectors, crucial for development, have been severely impacted, with corruption contributing to 70% of their backwardness.

A 2011 study by the Government Transparency Institute of Hungary, in collaboration with the Ugandan government and Deutsche Gesellschaft Internationale Zusammenarbeit, exposed the extent of corruption in the Health Sector. The findings revealed that corruption hinders access to health services, exacerbates poverty, and increases inequality. Embezzlement, bribery, and absenteeism are just a few manifestations of this corruption.

The root cause of corruption in Uganda’s Health Sector is a lack of transparency, which permeates the entire population, regardless of position or status. It is a collective responsibility, requiring sincerity and accountability from both the government and citizens. The government must facilitate medical workers, address their grievances, and educate them on the importance of transparency.

In the Infrastructure Sector, the government’s failure to enforce anti-corruption laws has led to ambiguity in holding corrupt individuals accountable. The Anti-Corruption Act and the Office of Inspectorate of Government have been ineffective in combating corruption. The “Mabaati saga” exposed the weakness of anti-corruption agencies, allowing guilty ministers to walk away unpunished.

To curb corruption, the government must stress accountability, implement laws strictly, and follow the example of corruption-free states like China and North Korea. Every resource must be allocated and utilized for its intended purpose. It is crucial to explore all avenues for combating corruption to achieve tangible growth and development.

The Author is a second year Law student at Nkumba University.

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