KAMPALA: Brig. Gen. Henry Isoke, the Head of State House Anti Corruption Unit (SH-ACU) on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, delivered a presentation on ‘Strategies in Winning the Fight Against Corruption’ at CID Training School Kibuli, Kampala.
Delivering the presentation, Gen. Isoke said that during the 2019 state of the nation address, H.E the president recognized corruption as the last obstacle to Uganda’s economic development.
He also said that the effects of corruption are evident for all of us to see and the one most of us encounter daily is the resultant failure in service delivery caused by corruption. “We should work together and move away from finger-pointing to collective action in the fight against corruption. Be patriots and remove the last obstacle to our development…And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up,” Gen. Isoke added.
The presentations indicated that the National Development Plan III identified key drivers of corruption as; weak public sector management and administration, inadequate operating standards and weak institutional structure, inadequate/inappropriate controls, poor remunerations, ineffective Anti-Corruption agencies, a weak judiciary, weak national value system, and a culture of impunity and moral decadence.
To combat this corruption vice in line with the 2020-2022 Strategic Plan, SH-ACU focuses on prevention/compliance by facilitating interventions that stop acts of corruption through;
a. Public information of budget releases.
b. Supporting the government institutions to monitor MDA work plans.
c. Procurement plans.
d. Sharing on successful corruption prosecutions to discourage impunity.
e. Naming and shaming the corrupt.
STRATEGIES TO FIGHT CORRUPTION
-Since 1986, the NRM government has implemented several reforms towards fighting corruption, including the passing of enabling legislation and policies, as well as putting in place institutions to deal with the vice.
-Among the legislated include; The Constitution, The Local Government Act, Budget Act, The Leadership Code Act, The Public Finance and Accountability Act, The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, The Access to Information Act, The Anti-Corruption Act, The Whistle Blowers Act, The Anti-Money Laundering Act, among others.
-Existing institutions have been strengthened and others put in place to operationalize these legal provisions. Among these include; Office the of the Auditor General(2008), Inspectorate of Government(1988), Directorate of Ethics and Integrity (DEI,), Public Service Inspection Unit, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP,1962), Public Procurement and Disposal of public assets Authority (PPDA,2003), Anti-Corruption Court(2008), Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA,2014), State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SH-ACU,2018) and Leadership Code Tribunal (LCT,1995).
-The government has also pursued policies that increase transparency in government planning, such as decentralization in which citizens participate in most of the government projects, including budget processes.
-Government has put in place several fiscal public finance reforms that have seen the use of Information Communication Technology, e.g Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), Electronicand Government Procurement (e-GP), among others.
-While the fight against corruption rages on, the majority of Ugandans have largely played a passive role, yet the vice of corruption affects the entire community. The public is mandated to take part in the fight against corruption under; the Mandate of the Public, Article 17 (1) (i) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995, provideswhich that it is a duty of a citizen “to combat corruption and misuse or wastage of public property”.
More recently, the government has adopted additional approaches in fighting corruption, including;
-Enhancing the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) which create trails for audit purposes, eliminate human to human transactions as corruption thrives on this. Government has successfully used ICT for visa and passport services and as such, a big number of citizens have received their passports without incurring costs of middlemen.
-Enhancing citizen participation, till recently, the majority of the population looked at the fight against corruption as only a duty for the mandated Anti- corruption agencies. The SH-ACU, has endeavored to reach out to the public to participate in the struggle. Currently, we have a 24/7 active call center.
-Massive sensitization programs to members of the public to awaken them to participate in governance matters and be empowered to demand for high standards of service from the government.
EFFECTS OF CORRUPTION
Over the years, it has noted that corruption has hampered government’s capacity to deliver services. This is reflected in the haphazard works, roads in disrepair, lack of medicines in government hospitals, to mention a few.
-Even worse, these failures in service delivery affect the poor who mostly rely on government for social services thereby exacerbating inequality.
-Corruption has the effect of reducing the trust and confidence the citizens have in government and can ultimately result in them withdrawing their consent to be governed, breakdown in social cohesion and ultimately insecurity. It is therefore a security risk.
THE ROLE OF POLICE IN THE WAR AGAINST CORRUPTION
SH-ACU has a CID police section which does investigations and arrest of suspects.
-Crime scene Management and Evidence Collection – For any matter to succeed in Court how the scene is managed and how evidence is collected is key especially with sophistication of corruption through use of ICT where digital forensic is now key. This is to ensure rules of evidence are complied with and evidence is not tampered with.
-Arrest and Detention – once investigations prove a case against a person such a person may evade arrest and Police places the crucial role of apprehending him and arraigning him in court
-Court Testimony – To persuade court to rule in your favour how testimony is given is key. It is the duty of Police Investigators to convince the court through clear and precise testimony
-Exhibit Management and Storage – The success of the case depends on the management and storage of exhibits collected.
-Search and Rescue – Searches have to be conducted in line with rules of evidence to ensure that the evidence collected is not thrown out.
-Interview and Statement Recording – A successful interview should lead to pertinent information and the Police Detective should be able to get from the witness such pertinent information
-Case File Management – How a Police file is managed is key to the success of a case. From how its compiled, minuted, evidence included and how its safeguarded to avoid removal of vital evidence.
-Whistleblower Protection – You know some corrupt people may stop at nothing to hide their crimes and may want to harm the witnesses involved and in our current arrangement Police also has the role of witness protection.
-Secure Forensic Evidence – With the increased use of ICT systems. Corruption crimes have become digitalised. Gov’t has deployed many ICT systems and evidence from such systems should be collected and secured by specialists from the Police Forensic Directorates.
THE DIRECTORATE OF FORENSIC SERVICES IN COLLABORATION WITH SH-ACU
-The forensic department helps the officers attached to the SH-ACU with analyzing documents which are used in court to prove cases.
-The department also helps us image mobile phones of our suspects to tell their communication trail and this helps us retrieve some of the required evidence.
-They also help with computer data extraction from suspected computers, analyze the data and reduce it to admissible evidence for court.
-They help the unit read questioned chassis numbers on suspected motor vehicles.
Delivering his final remarks, Gen. Isoke emphasised that the war on corruption is winnable.
SOME OF SH-ACU’s ACHIEVEMENTS
-Over Ugx. 35Bn recovered and saved
-Over 600 distressed Ugandans returned from Middle East
-319,842 complaints processed
-365 accused persons arraigned in court
-48 persons convicted