Saturday, July 24, 2010
KASESE DISTRICT INTEGRITY PROMOTION FORUM GAINS ROOT
It all started in May 2009 with a sensitization workshop of the District Local Government staffs and elected leaders by the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity in the Office of the President. RWECO took to facilitate the process by mobilizing stakeholders and providing the logistics
The Resident District Commissioner Kasese hosted the event. From the then the Kasese District Integrity Promotion Forum was born. It is a replica of the Inter Agency Forum at National level that brings together all actors involved in the accountability and good governance sector. The Kasese District Integrity Promotion Forum (DIPF), chaired by the RDC with the Chief Administrative Officer as the secretary, brings together accountability and good governance actors in the District who include the Office of the Resident District Commissioner, the District Internal Security Office (DISO), the Police, Criminal Investigations Department, the District Executive Committee, the District Technical Planning Committee, the District Public Accounts Committee, the Chief Magistrate, the Resident State Attorney, the Office of the Auditor General, the Regional Inspectorate of Government, the Private Sector, the Civil Society Organizations, the Cultural Institution and the Religious Leaders.
Government should stop shooting wide in fighting corruption while missing the corrupt people
The DIPF sits quarterly to review the state of enhancing ethical conduct in the delivery of services and how acts of corruption are being addressed by the various stakeholders. Since inception the DIPF has had three meetings, the latest being the one that was held on 9th July 2010, which was the third.
This 3rd DIPF meeting was co-funded by the Kasese District Local Government and the Rwenzori Consortium for Civic Competence (RWECO). The meeting had four main objectives, which were: to sensitize the members about the national anti-corruption strategy and the new anti-corruption laws; the District Strategy to Fight Corruption; Review of the progress of the DIPF; and a scan of the ethical conduct in the delivery of social services at the grassroots. The meeting was graced by among others the heads of the various religious sects in the District, members of the District Technical Planning Committee (Heads of Department and sections), the District Executive Committee, the Resident State Attorney, the Criminal Investigations Department (anti-corruption desk), the Private Sector and Civil Society organizations. Various papers were presented and discussed and a way forward hammered.
The first paper on the National Anti Corruption Strategy (NACS) was presented by Mr. Kenneth Kauta, the Principal Ethics Officer in the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity. He presented a synopsis of the national anti-corruption strategy and the efforts at national level to address the problem of corruption. He highlighted one of the key achievements has been the introduction of the anti-corruption court which has successfully prosecuted corruption cases including grand corruption ones. He also sensitized the meeting on the anti-corruption act and the whistle blowers act. These two acts left a deep impression on the members of the DIPF. One of them, Rev. Fr. Expedito Masereka, remarked that with these new laws, no one is spared of corruption, not even the pope. It was generally agreed that the new laws had widened the net to also include corruption in the private sector, which had hitherto not been expressly covered in the existing laws. However, doubt was cast about the willingness and capacity of government to enforce these laws. For instance, the Bishop of South Rwenzori Diocese, the Right Reverend Jackson Thembo Nzerebende, noted that government was shooting wide and missing the targets, which are the corrupt people.
He noted that the corrupt are well known but government has not done enough to bring them to book. He advised that it may necessary that government studies the tactics used by the corrupt to evade the law so the same can be used to catch them (corrupt).
In his presentation the RDC reviewed the progress of the DIPF and reminded the members of its terms of reference. He noted that the fight against corruption requires more than participation but actual involvement. He used the analogy of an animal farm.
The fight against requires more than participation but actual involuement
At that farm all the animals agreed to throw a party in honour of their master. They drew up a menu that included eggs, milk, and meat, among others. However, when it came to the actual implementation of the menu, some of the animals realized that whereas some were to participate by providing milk and eggs, others were to be directly involved by providing meat, which meant losing their lives. Those that were to be involved declined to participate in providing for the menu. The RDC therefore noted that in the fight against corruption what we need is real involvement not just participation. And this means losing what is so precious to us, for instance money and position (that are not earned!!). This left members of the DIPF shifting unsettled in their chairs.
The Assistant CAO, who is also the District Focal Point Person for Good Governance and Anti-corruption, Mr. Mutungwanda Johnson, presented the local government anti-corruption strategy. In this strategy he emphasized that heads of department at the district are required to form a Steering Committee of five members, one of whom is from civil society, which is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that no corruption is taking place in their respective departments. Besides, each head of department is required to make a report quarterly on what efforts his/he department has put in place to address the problem of corruption. The strategy also requires the district to put up a suggestion box at the district headquarters the keys to which are to be kept by the CAO and one by the member of the civil society. At the time of opening the suggestion both the CAO and civil society member must be present and the issues found therein addressed by the Steering Committee. The strategy requires that this should also be replicated at the sub county level. It was noted that for this strategy to work more successfully, there is need to link the local government’s proposed efforts to those of civil society which already exist. For instance, RWECO already suggestion boxes and notice boards at sub county level in most of the sub counties in Kasese District. All that is needed is a joint coordination between RWECO and the sub county and district local government to sensitize the people to use the notice boards and the suggestion boxes.
As part of the effort to expose unethical conduct and other weaknesses in the delivery of basic services to the communities RWECO presented findings of its monitoring efforts. It emphasized that this expose is one of the roles civil society has to play in addressing bottlenecks in the delivery of social services. Bottlenecks in poverty alleviation include among others corruption. Mr. Mwirima emphasized that one of the causes of corruption is failure by office holders to understand the basic roles of their offices in the poverty reduction strategy. They often do not link the role of their office to alleviating the poor people they serve.
Therefore, they do not mind diverting a few resources to their personal benefit. He added that this is lack of capacity to understand how to address poverty. This lack of capacity is one of the key components of the bottlenecks in structural poverty reduction strategy. RWECO is addressing this by exposing unethical conduct in the delivery of social services at community level. The RWECO findings were based on three sectors – water, health and education. Some of key findings are shown in the pictorial below. A heated debate followed the presentation of the civil society findings.
As a way forward the DIPF meeting resolved to follow pending issues exposed in the RWECO presentation. These included a resolution by the members to task the District Council to pronounce itself on the issuance of operational licenses of drug shops; that there should be prompt reporting of findings from the field and immediate action taken by the relevant authorities, not waiting for the DIPF meeting; deliberate action to operationalize the DIPF at sub county level immediately; the next DIPF meeting is to sit on 29th September 2010 and will consider among others the report of the accountability sector on Mahango Gravity Flow Scheme; and sensitization of the people through radio programmes on the local government anti-corruption strategy and anti-corruption laws.
By James Mwirima