Uganda Country Profile

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Ugandan Public Anti-Corruption Initiatives

  • Legislation: The Anti-Corruption Act 2009, the Penal Code 1950, the Inspectorate of Government Act 2002, the Public Finance and Accountability Act 2003 (PFAA), the Leadership Code Act 2002 (LCA), and the Public Prosecution and Disposal of Public Assets Act 2003 (see 'Public Procurement' below) compose the core of Uganda's legal framework against corruption. The Penal Code 1950 provides instruments to deal with various corruption offences including embezzlement, causing financial loss, abuse of office and fraud. The LCA is designed to increase transparency and to curb corruption. It sets out minimum standards of behaviour and conduct for political leaders and requires them to declare their incomes, assets and liabilities. It also criminalises attempted corruption, active and passive bribery, extortion, bribing a foreign public official, and abuse of office. The Code of Conduct and Ethics for Uganda Public Services was published by the Ministry of Public Services and lists the standards of behaviour for public officers. Under the Code, bribery is defined as any gratification with a value equal to UGX 20,000 or above that is given either to Public Officers by anyone with the intention to influence any current or future decisions in favour of someone, or that involves conflict of interest. According to Global Integrity 2011, the LCA requires that a gift or donation to a leader must be declared to the inspector general. It is important to note that a leader may accept a personal gift or donation from a relative or personal friend "to such an extent and on such occasion as is recognised by custom". However, Global Integrity 2011 indicates that the regulation is poorly enforced in practice as leaders rarely declare gifts or donations they have received, and the inspector general does not have the capacity to enforce the regulation. Uganda is a signatory of both the UN and AU conventions against corruption. However, although both were ratified in 2004, the conventions have not yet been fully domesticated into Ugandan laws. In July 2009, the Anti-Corruption Bill was enacted in an attempt to deal with corruption in both the public and private sectors. According to the Bill, those found guilty of corruption may face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of UGX 100 million. The Whistleblowers Protection Act was passed in March 2010 and seeks to protect whistleblowers and provide monetary rewards in return for reporting. The parliament has also recently passed the Anti-Money Laundering Bill and the False Claims Bill. Access the Lexadin World Law Guide for a collection of legislation in Uganda.
  • Government Strategies: The government's economic and development policies require it to work closely with donors, who in turn demand the government to make progress in its commitment to anti-corruption programmes. Donor coordination and dialogue seem to work well in Uganda. Several commissions of inquiry have been installed by the president. Two of these commissions are investigating corrupt practices in the police force and in the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), respectively, although their effectiveness has been questioned. The second phase of the anti-corruption programme (July 2008 to June 2011) was designed to strengthen ethics, integrity and respect for rule of law in the public sector. The programme aimed at supporting the implementation of the Leadership Code Act, imparting good governance in key corruption-prone government agencies that handle public procurement and tax collection and assisting civil society organisations (CSOs) and media. The government has declared a zero tolerance policy towards corruption and has developed several anti-corruption strategy policy documents, including the Poverty Eradication Action Plan 2004-2007 (complemented by the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2004-2007) and the National Strategy to Fight Corruption and Rebuild Ethics and Integrity in Uganda 2008-2013. According to the US Department of State 2012, political will to combat corruption at the highest levels of government remains weak, and despite various anti-corruption instruments, corruption cases remain pending for years.

  • Anti-Corruption Agencies: Uganda has several anti-corruption agencies that are discussed in more detail below. The Inspectorate of Government (IGG, see below) is the primary anti-corruption agency; together with other agencies, it has made progress in combating corruption and abuses of officeGlobal Integrity 2011 assesses that Uganda's various anti-corruption agencies, in practice, are not fully protected from political interference and can be influenced by political or personal incentives, including conflicting family relationships, professional partnerships or personal loyalties, and threats or other abuses of power. The US Department of State 2013 reports that the number of corruption cases has increased from 15 in 2010 to 44 in 2011 since the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Division in 2009. However, the public still widely believes that corruption committed by high-level officials is neither seriously investigated nor prosecuted. 

  • Anti-Corruption Court: Parliament passed a provision in 2005 creating a special Anti-Corruption Court, which became operational under the High Court in May 2008. According to the U4 2013 report, there are 232 convictions out of total 350 cases between 2009 and 2011. The great majority of cases, 68%, in 2010 and 2011 were related to embezzlement and public procurement. However, the report notes that the anti-corruption court is under staffed and faces financial constraints. 

  • Directorate of Ethics and Integrity (DEI): The DEI was established in 1986 to raise the issue of corruption to a cabinet level, to coordinate government efforts in its fight against corruption through the Inter Agency Forum (see below), and to establish an integrity system that promotes good governance. The DEI is mandated to implement the government's zero tolerance towards corruption policy; it maintains an extensive collection of anti-corruption resources that are open to the public. The DEI is carrying out its functions to address issues related to ethics and corruption and has acquired a considerable amount of information and materials; therefore, a resource centre has been established to make this material available. The DEI was mandated to implement the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2004-2007, which aimed both at improving enforcement and the coordination of existing law and at ensuring public involvement in fighting corruption. This strategy has been followed by the National Strategy to Fight Corruption and Rebuild Ethics and Integrity in Uganda 2008-2013 (see above). 

  • Inter Agency Forum (IAF): The IAF has been developed by the government and is chaired by the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity (DEI, see above). The IAF aims to ensure the effective coordination of agencies on corruption issues and is comprised of Uganda's major anti-corruption institutions, including the judiciary and police among others. The IAF has been used by anti-corruption agencies to work together in designing and implementing national anti-corruption strategies and to promote awareness and the advancement of reforms. However, due to the DEI's lack of funding and its insufficient staff, the IAF is yet to become effective at facilitating dialogue between public and private anti-corruption stakeholders. Click here for more information on the IAF.

  • Ombudsman / Inspectorate of Government (IGG): The IGG is an independent agency under the 1995 Constitution. While it also functions as ombudsman, its mandate is wider than that of a traditional ombudsman. According to U4 2013, the IGG has the power not only to investigate, arrest and prosecute cases involving corruption or the abuse of authority or public office, but also to gain access to documents whenever necessary. The IGG has implicated anti-corruption institutions in incidences of corruption, such as the lower levels of the police and the judiciary. Freedom House 2012 reports that the IGG has faced difficulties with respect to the declaration of income, as many members of parliament have refused to submit income information. Furthermore, the IGG 's efforts are disrupted by the agency lacking qualified staff and sufficient funding, according to U4's 2013 report.

  • Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP): The DPP has the mandate over all criminal prosecutions in the country and is further empowered by the Prevention of Corruption Act (1970) to prosecute cases of corruption and bribery. In 2004, the Fraud Unit, a specialised body, was created within the DPP to handle fraud and corruption cases, working closely with the CID National Fraud Squad. According to U4 2013, most cases investigated by the DPP are related to embezzlement and forgery. Nevertheless, the DPP does not have the power to carry out investigations, and it struggles with a lack of investigative capacity, qualified personnel and technical expertise. 

  • Auditor General (AG): The AG audits and reports on the public accounts of Uganda and on all public offices. According to Global Integrity 2011, the AG works closely with other government departments to initiate and conduct financial and value for money audits regarding any project involving public funds. The AG also audits the Local Councils (local government bodies) and submits reports to parliament and other relevant authorities on local cases. According to Global Integrity 2011, in practice the appointments to the AG do not sufficiently support its independence from the executive; the AG is under presidential influence, and the head of the AG is appointed and can be removed by the president. Thus, according to the report, appointments may sometimes be based on political considerations, and individuals appointed may have clear party loyalties.

  • E-Governance: The Ugandan government announced in September 2008 that it will establish a national e-Government Web Portal to consolidate the individual websites of various government institutions. The aim of the portal is to create a one-stop shop for all government information. Uganda Central consists of a range of government portals, including those of government ministries and the judiciary. According to the United Nations E-Government Survey 2012, Uganda's e-government development is considered slightly higher than the Eastern Africa regional average. Uganda is ranked by the survey as 143rd out of 190 countries in terms of e-government development, and received a score of 0.2941 on a 0-1 scale ('0' being the worst performance and '1' the best performance) in terms of online service. 

  • Public Procurement: The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) is an independent agency managed by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act 2003, which sets the rules and regulations for procurement. The PPDA Act establishes ministries, government departments and agencies as procuring entities. According to the Act, major procurements require competitive bidding, and strict formal requirements limit the extent of sole sourcing. Unsuccessful bidders can ask for an official review of the bidding process and challenge the concrete procurement decision in the courts, according to Global Integrity 2011.The PPDA has also developed complaints procedures regarding public procurement. The PPDA has the power to blacklist providers and maintains a list of suspended providers. However, according to Global Integrity 2011, although companies that violate procurement regulations are legally prohibited from participating in future bids, the enforcement of the law is weak; companies guilty of major violations of procurement regulations sometimes bid again using their influence, particularly if those companies are politically well-connected. The parliament passed the Anti-Corruption Act 2009, setting stricter punishments which include imprisonment for up to ten years for corruption in both public and private sectors. The government has launched an online Register of Providers system, which is a database of suppliers of works, services and goods to government. This system is also aimed at transparent and corruption-free practices in procurement activities. The PPDA is the central actor in the fight against rampant corruption in public procurement; it enforces regulations addressing conflicts of interest for public procurement officials, although enforcement is sometimes subject to political interference. Like most of the other government institutions, the PPDA is understaffed and is subsequently impeded in its ability to investigate corruption cases, according to U4 2013.  

  • Whistle-Blowing: The Whistleblowers Protection Act was enacted into law in March 2010. Until then, there was a lack of a solid legislative framework for whistleblower protection as the Leadership Code Act and Access to Information Act provide only indirect legal protection for whistleblowers. The Act provides both for high prison terms for people disclosing whistleblowers' identity and for whistleblowers who come forth with maliciously wrong allegations. The Act also includes monetary incentives for blowing the whistle on corruption: whistleblowers receive 5% of the total amount recovered following their denouncement. However, according to Global Integrity 2011, public and private sector employees are in practice reluctant to report corruption due to fear of reprisals and a lack of actual protection. The Inspectorate of Government (IGG) Act provides a framework for whistleblower protection, including identity protections, financial reward and protection from recrimination or other punishments, and the criminalisation of the unlawful disclosure of whistleblower identities and their victimisation. The IGG has established a hotline so members of the public can anonymously report cases of corruption.