Dear Steven Twinoburyo
I read with trepidation your article on the level of poverty and the state of hopelessness and decay in Uganda and, especially so in the rural areas where most of the poor reside.
I am actually a bit surprised that such is the state of affairs in an area where, as you rightly put, “the powerful in the political leadership of the country” come from. In other areas, it has been the norm for ages. Ask me.
Steven, I am not sure whether you know Kampala City very well but next time you visit Uganda, make a turn in the suburb of Kololo just to have a taste of the state of roads there. I swear you will be left open mouthed. Remember, that is where the diplomats representing donor countries, and the elites reside. All that remains of the once beautiful roads there are mounds of gravel, representing road repairs – Uganda style, or large and deep holes that one would normally call pot holes. But to refer to those massive craters as potholes would be the understatement of the year. Besides, I don’t think you will ever come across a pot that would fit in comparison to what I am referring to here.
Steven, I can assure you the current leaders of Uganda have never called for a national legotla in which they agreed on how to stymie national development. No. It all boils down to the current pastime in the country – Corruption.
The effect of corruption on Uganda can be gauged through both its direct impact through the increasing cost of public services, the lowering of their quality, and often all together restricting access to such essential services as clean water, access roads, healthcare and good education, and the indirect impact through diverting public resources away from social sectors and the poor, and through limiting development, growth and poverty reduction.
While corruption has impacted negatively on most of the segments of the Ugandan society, the poor (especially in those areas like mine where you find only bogus and useless big men) have been more vulnerable in terms of being hit by the negative and harsh consequences on the country’s overall development processes.
I have not been to the western part of Uganda for sometime now. However, there is this perception among the citizenry in other parts of the country that there has been an element of disproportional development and inequality during the current administration. Going by that perception, I had all along this misplaced assumption that there is no chance in hell that one can encounter a pothole on the Mbarara – Kabale highway. Sorry man!
Generally, let me give you synopsis of how corruption has striped Uganda of its moral values and posed serious development challenges for the country. In the political realms, it has undermined democracy and good governance by flouting and subverting formal processes. In elections and in legislative bodies it has reduced accountability and distorted representation in policymaking. In the judiciary, it has compromised the rule of law. And in the public administration, it has resulted in the inefficient provision of services.
It has eroded the institutional capacity of the government as procedures are disregarded, resources are siphoned off, and public offices are bought and sold. At the same time, corruption has undermined the legitimacy of the government and such democratic values as trust and tolerance.
The country’s economic development has been undermined by the generation of considerable distortions and inefficiency. In the private sector, corruption has increased the cost of business through the price of illicit payments, the management cost of negotiating with officials, and the ever present risk of breached agreements. Where it has inflated the cost of business, corruption has also distorted the playing field by shielding firms with connections from competition.
It has generated economic distortions in the public sector by diverting public investment into capital projects where bribes and kickbacks are more plentiful.
Last but not least, corruption has lowered compliance with planning, construction, environmental, and other regulations, thereby reducing the quality of services and infrastructure.
So Steven, you can see the monumental calamity into which our country finds itself in.
Meanwhile, I will not lie to you. I am not yet an ardent user of facebook.
Richard Obo, Pretoria