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Anite’s fight against corruption and the mirrors NRM refuses to use

Speaker Anita Among

Speaker Anita Among

Corruption in Uganda has a thriving soft life despite the endless haranguing by President Yoweri Museveni.

Museveni and his audience have lost count of the number of times he has promised to do something about corruption. He has talked about corruption (even walked about it), christened the corrupt ‘parasites’, frowned in disgust at them, and declared war against them.

Yet, corruption remains lucrative and unapologetic. This year has seen online activism ramp up the noise about corruption. With the increasing repression of civic space, Ugandans have turned to social media to demand accountability and call out impunity. From exposing the extortion rackets at Entebbe International Airport, shaming public authorities over the dismal state of the capital city, the ailing health sector to the roaring parliamentary corruption, Ugandans have let their internet data do the talking - safely.

The ripples of the online Uganda Parliament Exhibition are still reverberating. At the height of it when mere mortals, those quisling Ugandans, demanded that the speaker of parliament Anita Among respond to the calls for accountability, they received robust derision.

Deplorably, the President, like the wind beneath the Speaker’s wings, derided those spearheading the exhibitions as agents of foreign imperialism. Therefa, when the president takes to the podium to rail repeatedly against corruption, one wonders if he will ever face the man in the mirror and stop passing the buck.

Given the extravagance of the budgets of the State House and the Office of the President, surely there are more than enough mirrors in the gilded corridors of the presidency. Regime apologists are buoyant about the trickle of members of parliament (MPs) currently facing corruption charges. However, remarks from the speaker in defense of ‘her MPs’ remind us why corruption lives the soft life in Uganda.

The Government of Uganda, which boasts of a directorate for Ethics and Integrity, complete with a ministerial post, is yet to push back against the speaker’s blatant promotion of corruption. Speaker Among, alongside MP Juliet Kinyamatama, showed how little they think of Ugandans and the importance of good governance when they publicly announced that corruption is not too bad if the corrupt who “steal from Ugandans, share with Ugandans” (SUSU).

The logic of SUSU as we saw in the previous article (The Observer June 26 ‘Kinyamatama: Newest poster child  of SUSU – Steal from Ugandans, Share with Ugandans’) follows the president’s counsel to the longsuffering inspector general of Government (IGG). The President has ‘guided’ that if we go hard against the corrupt with lifestyle audits, we will scare the corrupt from investing their loot in Uganda.

The logic is presidential. Political pundits posit that corruption is the lubricant that keeps the huge and unwieldy yellow bus going. They opine that corruption is the method to the madness that is the NRM regime. To face the man in the mirror and do the hard and dirty work of fighting corruption would ‘unalive’ the regime.

The president himself seems at odds; how to fight corruption without actually fighting corruption. He has taken to yet another anti-corruption unit under the ever-expanding Office of the Presidency. One might wonder why the president does not turn to the existing anti-corruption institutions like the IGG or the police.

Is the president declaring the existing institutions and, therefore, his own government incompetent? You might have heard that the government is in the process of reducing the number of government agencies. Thus, you wonder why the president is going about like Father Christmas in July gifting us an office we did not know we needed.

Dear reader, if you do wonder about these matters, maybe you should refrain from wandering aimlessly. With every finger president Museveni wags at corruption, with every verbal threat he utters, one cannot help themselves- the wondering resumes. Does the president believe the words coming out of his mouth?

When will the President acknowledge that his regime is in a deep hole cuddling with corruption? When will the President face that man in the mirror? Enter the curious case of the state minister for Investment and Privatisation, Evelyn Anite. Fiercely unapologetic about her loyalty to President Museveni and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), Anite is no shrinking violet.

Infamous for taking to her knees to beseech President Museveni to accept the heavy crown of sole candidature for the presidency, Anite is heeding her president’s call to fight corruption.

Cementing the undeniable growth of online activism in Uganda, Anite held a 1.5-hour-long space on July 1 on the social media platform X.

Titled, ‘The Fight against Corruption and How It Fights Back’, Anite promised that the space would delve into the “broad daylight robbery of public funds”. Raising the alarm over the actions of Uganda Investment Authority staff who awarded themselves over Shs 540 million, Anite urged Ugandans to demand the return of these millions.

“Citizens, this is not a battle for one person. This is a battle for all of us...I want to tell Ugandans that when I see corruption, I will not keep quiet.” She reiterated her call, “When you see something, say something.”

Dear reader, Anite’s call is for that Uganda we all desire. Working towards a Uganda that works for all of us, is for all of us. Yet Anite has a front-row seat to why corruption lives large in Uganda; therefore, her responsibility in this fight is greater. During the online space, Anite observed the corrupt are powerful and have faster access to the fountain of honour. Faster access than those calling out the corrupt.

Anite further revealed that President Museveni counseled her to forgive, and then laboured to shield the president from the glaring implications of that forgiveness. I could hear the conundrum she will not admit to herself, the (wo)man in the mirror she will not face. The summary: When Anite saw something and chose to say something - the president asked her to forgive.

In ending her interview, Anite intimated how the people of Arua town, fed up with petty crime and thuggery, apprehended thieves and killed three of them. The smile in her voice was unmissable as she expressed her support for the actions of her people.

“The people of Arua did something amazing and I joined that day to clap for them - they sent a harsh message to the police. We are tired of these renowned thieves!” However, she quickly added a disclaimer, “I am not asking people to kill anybody. I am only asking you [Ugandans] demand for your money. Don’t kill...make life difficult for them.”

Is it unethical of a government minister to applaud mob justice? Absolutely. As unethical as Anite asserting that NRM has the political will to stamp out corruption.

As the government snuggles up in a retreat at the National Leadership Institute in Kyankwanzi, to do some more talking about corruption, Anite please do the 2014 Kyankwanzi thing again! Kneel, but this time give him a mirror! He is a Jajja - he can take the truth.

That man in the mirror looking back at him is the biggest obstacle in the fight against corruption. Could that man in the mirror become our biggest weapon?

smugmountain@gmail.com

The writer is a tayaad muzzukulu.

Comments   

+1 #1 Lakwena 2024-07-10 11:06
Tayaad Muzzukulu, in a regime of the corrupt, by the corrupt and for the corrupt; how can Anite serve the same corrupt regime and remain clean from the rot of corruption under the nose and watch of our "Problem of Africa, non other than Gen Tibuhaburwa.

In other words, including the incessant borrowing stealing from and killing Ugandans; in order to escape justice, for 38 years and counting, Mr. M7 and the Anite of this country are prolonging their dishonest and bloody past, into the present, which is already bleeding into the future for the Ugandans' next generation to deal with. .
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-1 #2 Akot 2024-07-10 16:18
Why is Rwandese Museveni still in post & Ugandans still powerless tribally divided ruled, yet go for fake elections to officialise, legalise, constitutionalise his ownership of Uganda?

Who is going to get rid of Museveni for Ugandans & how?

Why does Uganda belong to Rwandese Museveni & family as birth right?
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0 #3 Marc Mae 2024-07-11 04:48
I was amused when the President condemned corruption and nepotism: Whoever wrote that speech must have been pointing a finger at him and trying to open his eyes through this message to the nation
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