Small-Scale Farmers Petition Government Demanding Stronger Actions Against Corrupt Servants
Small-scale farmers today, 9th of December 2022, join the rest of the world to commemorate the International day against corruption. The celebrations are under the theme “Uniting the World Against Corruption”. The United Nations (UN) General Assembly, by resolution 58/4 of 31st October 2003, designated 9th December as International Anticorruption Day, where a number of African countries, including Uganda, ratified this day. Uganda signed and ratified two anti-corruption conventions; the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC). The day was designated for a global observance to promote awareness about the dangers of corruption and how to prevent and combat it.
The United Nations Convention against Corruption stresses that corruption is a decay in the decision-making process in which a decision-maker consents to deviate or demands a deviation from the criterion which should rule his or her decision-making in exchange for a reward or for the promise or expectation of a reward, while these motives influencing his or her decision-making cannot be part of the justification of the decision. Therefore, International Anti-Corruption Day presents an opportunity for small-scale farmers across the country and the globe, governments, and political leaders, among others, to build partnerships in the fight against corruption by reflecting on its evils and seeking consensus on new measures to fight it.
On this day, small-scale farmers take the opportunity to commend the government of Uganda and its anti-corruption agencies in the fight against corruption. Mr. Hakim Baliraine, the Chairperson Board of Directors ESAFF and a small-scale farmer from Mayuge district, applauds the government for the great strides in establishing systems to fight corruption, i.e., the Anti-Corruption Act 2009 and the Enforcement of the Leadership Code of Conduct Act (2002), Inspectorate of Government, Office of the Auditor General, Public procurement and disposal of public assets Authority (PPDA), Justice Law and order sector (JLOS), the Committee on Public Accounts, Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), access to information Act, whistleblower protection and anti-money laundering laws and the adoption of a Zero Tolerance to Corruption Policy and a National Anti-Corruption Strategy (2020 – 2024).
Mr. Wali Christopher- ESAFF Mukono district applauded the office of the IGG for being able to incriminate at least the Ministry of Agriculture officials that led to the recovery of Shs9.9 billion in June 2022, which was obtained through false accounting and stressed that this money would support the agriculture sector service delivery to the small scale farmers. He further commended the government for arresting public officials swindling Parish Development Model funds meant to transform subsistence Ugandans to commercial status.
Since 2015, ESAFF Uganda has empowered small-scale farmers (SSFs) to take up their responsibility of active and meaningful participation in budget policy development and demanding transparency and accountability using the Public Expenditure Tracking Systems (PETS). In at least 12 targeted districts across the country, SSFs formed PETS committees, and each one tracks at least three agriculture-related projects. Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys are led by small-scale farmers on identified agriculture projects and end with organized advocacy meetings, which involve formally a total of 326 local government officials, farmers, and media in sharing about accountability and finding solutions to ensure prudent access to sector services and ending corruption at the community level.
Ms. Nancy Mugimba, the National Coordinator ESAFF Uganda, highlighted that despite the government and private sector efforts put towards the anti-corruption fight like enabling legislation, institutions, agencies, and increased collaboration between the anti-corruption agencies and Non-State Actors (NSAs), the war against corruption remains elusive to fight because of its complex and mutative nature in form, and manifestation. Nancy contends that the implementation of the laws is hampered by limited political will, insufficient manpower, and technical and financial capacities amongst anti-corruption bodies, as well as overlapping mandates and limited coordination between anti-corruption authorities. She further stated that there are a lot of gaps in the whistle-blower protection framework, and the absence of a witness protection law has further hindered the prosecution of high-profile corruption cases and contributed to impunity for corruption offenses among government officials. Against this backdrop, Uganda according to Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index for 2021, Uganda scored 27 out of 100, which is below the average of 33 points for the sub-Saharan and 43 points for the global average. A recent report by the IG indicates that Uganda loses about 20 trillion Shillings annually to corruption.
Mr. Dungu Gerald Tabula, the chairperson of ESAFF Masaka stated that the implementation of corruption prevention and detection of anti-corruption enforcement has been particularly weak. In the Global Integrity Report, 2020 of 114 countries, Uganda was found to have had the largest implementation gap, in which it scored very highly (99%) on having a very good legal framework but was awarded 45% for having a weak implementation record, giving an implementation gap of 54%.
By impact, Ms. Naume Kalinaki, ESAFF Uganda, highlighted that corruption in agriculture poses problems for small-scale farmers in the communities. Corruption issues affect land title and tenure, credit availability, quality of supplies, water for production, marketing, and the development of agribusinesses. As a result, corruption contributes to the worsening of action with poverty and inequality. Along with hindering efforts in poverty alleviation, corruption is one of the major obstacles to political and economic development, loss of trust in government, poor infrastructure, delays in project implementation, and low investments.
As the world commemorates anti-corruption day 2022, small-scale farmers demand that the government:
Increase funding to anti-corruption agencies to capacitate these agencies to execute their mandate i.e. the IGG and other anti-corruption agencies.
Enhance small-scale farmers and farmer-based organizations to participate in policy and decision-making processes.
Establish a legal and institutional regime for the protection of witnesses. This should cover the phases of investigation and prosecution of corruption cases and even the post-trial period. This legal framework should include sufficient protection and reward for informers, whistle-blowers, and witnesses.
Enact a law on non-conviction-based asset recovery to create a strong legal framework and an independent institution for the tracing, acquisition, management, and disposal of proceeds of corruption. This law would also consolidate the different asset recovery departments that are currently scattered in different government agencies.
ESAFF Uganda commits to continue empowering small-scale farming communities to participate actively and meaningfully in accountability processes using the PETS and protection of the community whistle-blowers using the Timby application as a contribution towards fighting corruption in Uganda.
Improve on the affirmative action on public servants who are found or involved in corruption by effectively attaching all they have acquired during that period in case it is not in tandem to their salary.