Monthly Archives: May 2014

The fairer side of corruption….

If only the debate about corruption and its evils can go away. But just like doctors say, dirt is good and so is corruption, in a way. Looking at it from any lay man’s point of view, it sounds fantastic, even wonderful! In actual fact the dirt helps the body build up immunity against infections, some might  even be life threatening.

It occurs at all levels of society, from local to national governments, civil society, judiciary functions, large and small businesses, military and other services and so on. In Africa it is endemic and there is no end in sight. Many presidents from Nigeria to Myanmar, South Africa to the South Korea and yours truly (Uganda’s leader)  have paid lip service to the eradication of this problem, but it is just that: lip service. Many of them get political capital.

At the risk of appearing to be an enabler / appeaser, I think all this pilfered money should be given proper channels through which it can be helpful, not only to the politicians and their ‘causes’ but to the societies and communities in which they live. The money should be able to easily flow back to the communities in form investments. It should not however be in form of soap, sugar, etc. every odd five years (read election time). It is no secret that Switzerland and Luxemburg’s development were partially due to their “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy where many businessmen & politicians with shoddy dealings deposit huge amounts of money, mostly stolen, in their economies. From the Nazis of old to modern day democratic dictators, all are guilty! Factories, farms, ranches, etc could be set up to create employment, build capacity and improve the household incomes and wealth of nations.

We regularly read and hear of public officials involved in one scandal after another and we wonder where all the money goes. Well, most of them (African politicians) have children in European schools, visit hospitals in South Africa & America, etc but all of this does not account for the years and years of “collections” from the national coffers. Others are wont to keep the money under their beds and in ceilings where it becomes fodder for vermin.

My idea is that since apparently no one is clean from this problem then the government should put in place avenues through which these embezzled funds are used productively for the good of the county. Instead of naming, shunning & shaming, confiscating property & money (which is also in turn stolen) why not encourage the “cadres” to set up building estates, construction companies, cooperative unions / Saccos, etc.

Let the cadres consolidate “their” funds and provide cheap loans, build schools, provide low cost housing, etc. We often hear of forced ‘contributions’ by the cadres to the party especially during campaigns. Why not setup well known means of investment. This is very feasible in the long-run because actual investments are made which are transferable, taxable, etc. This will improve the employment situation in the country, increase GDP, private co-finance, etc.

The government’s role in all this should be to ease up the functions of the regulatory authorities, after all they are not immune themselves! Government officials should be given more leeway to setup private businesses without having to be impeded by investigations & inquiries over their wealth. The need to declare personal wealth to the regulators should also be scraped in order to encourage innovation & positive thinking. Then perhaps all of us will benefit from this scourge and not just a few.