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Corruption and human engineered disasters


We have manmade disasters and then we have natural disasters. There are very many manmade disasters which are systemically obviously going to happen. People here in the studio, like to talk about the word corruption as a vague abstract term. Corruption is not vague, corruption is not abstract. For corruption to take place there has to be the person who is paying the bribe and the person who is soliciting that bribe.  People like to say, those people are corrupt. They often pay attention to these small people who have received a bribe. But they are not looking at the person who solicited the bribe - like the one who said, let me bribe you. It is at that point that vital resources are diverted to do other things; and then you have an engineered manmade disaster. 

This is not exclusive to only adults, even the youth. People like to discuss youth in abstract terms. Youth are individuals. On 1st April 2016, I was invited by Parliament Watch  to have a twitter session with them. And I was totally blown over. It was a complete myth buster. These were young people. Everybody in the room was younger than me, but they were the most productive set of youth. They completely do not fit in that image of victims; of we have been neglected. They are very hardworking, intelligent young people and they are utilising just one room. On that day they were debating budgets for Uganda for 2016. This is the kind of youth we have and they should be the majority. But instead when we discuss them in victim terms, we are basically systemically engineering a manmade disaster. Because then you have entitled people saying the government has to do everything for us – no, no, no.

Why hasn’t the private sector in Uganda invested in health care? Most health care systems in the world are not leveraged only by the public sector. The public sector can put a minimum investment, but what is our role as citizens of Uganda to ask, why is it that it is not attractive for health care service providers to come and provide services in Uganda? And we must not negate also that Uganda’s health care system was thoroughly impacted by structural adjustment programmes.  While the government in place at that time, and the NRM administration has been in place for over 30 years, must apologise to the people of Uganda - it should not have happened on your watch - the opposition, the civil society advocates, and every Ugandan, we are all guilty for allowing that machine to reach that point.

These are the views that I shared on Monday, 11th April 2016, during the discussion on the radio programme “Spectrum” on Radio One FM90. The discussion focused on the responsiveness of the Government of Uganda to national challenges. It highlighted the case of the crisis at the Uganda cancer institute and other health facilities. It explored how resources are allocated and if there is proper planning. The moderator, Bishop Edmond Kizito asked:

“Is the government serious on planning to avoid avoidable emergencies? How well have we handled emergencies?  Such as: the breakdown of the only cancer treatment machine in the country; the growing water shortage in the North; we have other diseases – hepatitis B and others, we have refugees; we have food shortages – we have had them perennially in Karamoja; we have school rooms collapsing – some of them never built at all; and then the landslides in Bududa. How well have we planned as a nation to handle emergencies?”

The guests were Mr. Robert Kirunda - Lecturer at the Faculty of Law Makerere University Kampala, also a pundit on social, human rights and political matters; Ms. Norah Owaraga: Managing Director at CPAR Uganda Ltd, founding member of Kigo Thinkers  and also a cultural anthropologist; and Engineer Raymond Kamugisha Akankwasa who works at the office of the National Resistance Movement (NRM)  Chairman, also President of Uganda, His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

 By Norah Owaraga, Managing Director, CPAR Uganda Ltd