By John Kabagambe
In an address to police officers at Bwebajja police training college, Col Edith Nakalema head of State House Anti corruption unit (SH-ACU) verbally fired from close range (pun intended) when she told police to end bribery. She went further to suggest that, police should arrest those who offer them bribes. Ofcourse if members of the public know that they risk getting arrested if they offer bribes to police, that would be a deterrent that would serve to reduce rampant bribery.
Bribery by definition, is the offering, giving, receiving or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official in charge of a public or legal duty. Bribery, “kitu kidogo” or “facilitation” is a form of corruption where one offers or receives money, a service, or an item of value, to perform a duty or render a service for the benefit of the giver of the bribe.
In a nutshell, bribery has the components of soliciting or just being offered something of monetary or material value in anticipation of a favor, benefit or privilege to the giver. It is therefore transactional, so to speak.
Aside from being illegal, bribery has the problem of “forcing the hand” of the person in authority to do something wrong (instead of using honest discreation) for personal gratification. As a result, the law, procedure, justice and fairness are bent, tilted or slanted in favour of he/she who pays. That’s how you end up with wrongful evictions, innocent people arrested and maliciously prosecuted, and an increase in the carnage on the roads (owing to careless/reckless/dangerous drivers getting away with bribes, instead of getting imprisoned, to mention but afew instances.
As a consequence, bribery breeds injustice, poor service delivery besides fostering lack of transparency in public decision making, and disenfranchises the regular folks (omuntu wa wansi) who can’t corruptly get justice, a service or a decision judiciously done without monetary or material influence.
It gets worse (when allowed to fester) because the wrong people (corrupt, totally devoid of ethics, professionalism or scruples) end up bribing their way and getting into positions of power and influence at the expense of the right people albeit who might not have the money or the stomach to feed into the bribery criminal enterprise.
Back to Nakalema’s warning to police to stamp out bribery by arresting the bribe givers, if police is serious about redeeming its tainted image of being infested with kawukumi, among others, eliminating bribery might be a good place to start. That said, since bribery is not only about those who offer bribes but includes those who solicit and receive bribes, police standards unit (PSU) should seriously crack the whip against rogue bribe takers within police ranks.
Perhaps mass public sensitisation can also help to dissuade the public against offering bribes, otherwise, the way things are, public perceptions have been shaped to expect to give bribes to those in positions of authority, and to also be bribed during general elections, to “vote wisely.”
Figures paint such a gloomy picture when they show that this year, Uganda has lost Ugx10 trillion to graft! Graft is defined as, “the unscrupulous use of one’s authority for personal gain” Graft occurs when funds intended for public projects are intentionally misdirected in order to maximize the benefits to private interests.
To get the true gloomy picture of how corruption can undermine the progress of a country, get the Ugx10 trillion shillings that Uganda has lost this year to graft, and add the wrong decisions that are passed annually at various administrative levels influenced by bribery the effect of which is not computed.
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