Museveni’s Fight Against Corruption: A Ghost of the House Fly.

The Indian philosopher J. Krishna once said words are not what they describe. The word flower is not a flower. I dare say that Museveni’s proclamation of “fight” against corruption is not a fight against corruption.

President Yoweri Museveni’s war on corruption stands as a bold proclamation but in reality, it’s nothing more than a ghost of a house fly caught in a cobweb. It is like a housefly that finds itself ensnared in a delicate yet deadly cobweb. The spider creeps closer, its eyes gleaming with hunger. With a swift bite, it injects a venom that dissolves the housefly from the inside, allowing the spider to feast on the nourishing liquid within. As it feeds, the house fly’s vibrant energy fades, leaving behind only an empty, fragile shell. From a distance, it still looks like a lively fly, suspended gently in the web as if resting. But upon closer inspection,  it is clear that this is no longer the spirited house fly that had once danced through the air. Its essence had been consumed, leaving a hollow ghost of his former self.

Corruption in Uganda has grown like a malignancy, infiltrating every level of governance.  Recent events have exposed the egregious depths of this plague. Online protests have laid bare the shocking service awards handed to parliament commissioners, igniting public outrage. The speaker of parliament herself has not escaped unscathed, with corruption allegations swirling around her office. The most shocking scandal erupted last year when numerous government officials were implicated in the theft of iron sheets meant for impoverished communities in  Karamoja, a betrayal that cut deep into the nation’s moral fabric.

This has prompted what the president termed as a war against corruption. It is however not the first time the president has come out to declare war on corruption. In June 2009, Museveni, in his State of the Nation address, declared war against corruption, a war he deemed the last battle after the defeat of the LRA. His words echoed through the chambers of power as Uganda was ranked the third highest in corruption according to Transparency International’s barometer that year. The declaration was a call to arms, a promise of a cleaner, more transparent government.  But even then, the seeds of doubt were sown, could a government so steeped in corruption truly cleanse itself?

Fast forward to September 29, 2023, Museveni stood before the NRM caucus, the majority in parliament, and once again sounded the alarm. “Even my own staff have been accused of picking money from people to get a service,” he admitted. His voice was firm as he urged the members not to remain silent. “We don’t need it and it’s not necessary. We have the capacity to crush all the corrupt people, and we shall do it. All we need are the facts,” he said.

And indeed, with very good laws and policies, Uganda is armed to the teeth to deal with corruption. However, the president has never been honest in his declarations of war on corruption. He is in fact the biggest defender of the corrupt. A Prosecutor in the Anti-Corruption Court lamented on May 21, 2013 “Untouchables. Come rain, come shine, they’re never going to court, not while there’s somebody close to them in power. That’s because of the politics involved.” This stark reality reveals the true nature of Museveni’s stance against corruption, an endless charade where the powerful remain protected, and the justice system becomes a mere spectator.  Museveni’s close allies and inner circle, entrenched in their positions, are immune from prosecution, their transgressions overlooked because of their proximity to the president.

Justice John Bosco Katutsi, former head of the Anti-Corruption Court, echoed this sentiment during a 2010 ruling convicting an engineer involved in the Commonwealth Heads of  Government Meeting scandal. “This court is tired of trying tilapias when crocodiles are left swimming,” he declared. His frustration highlighted the futility of prosecuting minor offenders while the major players continued their plunder unchecked. The biggest crocodile, as many  Ugandans whisper, is none other than the big crocodile himself, whose web of patronage and protection ensures that the most corrupt are the most secure.

But I do understand why Museveni has not been genuine about fighting corruption. The reality is, if all the corrupt were to be expunged, the entire structure would collapse. Corruption is embedded in the very DNA of the NRM, with nearly every official entangled in a web of graft and deceit. The system’s survival hinges on this intricate network of corruption, where loyalty and complicity are the currency of power. Without these corrupt pillars, the government would crumble, revealing the true extent of its moral bankruptcy and the hollowness of Museveni’s proclaimed war against corruption.

President Museveni is acutely aware of this grim reality. He knows that a genuine fight against corruption would be tantamount to signing the death warrant of his own administration. The president’s proclamations of a war on corruption are, therefore, mere facades, designed to placate a frustrated public while preserving the status quo. Museveni understands that to dismantle corruption would be to dismantle the very foundation upon which his power rests.  This stark awareness ensures that his efforts to combat corruption will never be genuine, for to do so would unravel the intricate web of patronage and protection that keeps him and his loyalists in power.

The wisdom of the world is that there is a difference between what you know and what you can prove. I can predict that Mr Museveni will arrest some of his accomplices, but he will order the Justices before whom they will appear to release them on claims that there was no sufficient evidence to prove their guilt.

Let’s watch the space!

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Written by EJIKU Justine (1)

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Wounded Animal

I am the perpetrator but your victim in the end – I play my cards right.