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Anti-Corruption Agencies Engage Clerics On Graft Fight

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In his remarks, Bamugemereire explained that they are seeking to partner with IRCU in the fight against corruption, saying religious bodies are very important vehicles of creating awareness among masses.
Deputy Inspector General of Government (IGG) George Bamugemereire addresses religious leaders under the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda on the fight against corruption.

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Anti-corruption agencies have met religious leaders under the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) to enlist their support in the fight against graft.

The officials were drawn from the Inspectorate of Government (IG), Office of the Auditor General (OAG), Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Asset's Authority (PPDA)  Directorate for Ethics and Integrity and the Justice Law and Order Sector-JLOS.

The Ethics and Integrity Minister, Fr. Simon Lokodo and the Deputy Inspector General of Government- IGG, George Bamugemereire led the delegation to the IRCU Secretariat in Mengo. The religious leaders were led by the IRCU Board Chairman, Msgr. Charles Kasibante.

The interface was held in line with this year's Anti-Corruption Campaign held under the theme; Citizens' Participation in the Fight against Corruption: A sustainable Path to Uganda's Transformation.

In his remarks, Bamugemereire explained that they are seeking to partner with IRCU in the fight against corruption, saying religious bodies are very important vehicles of creating awareness among masses.

He said the IG has decided to establish local complaints handling mechanisms to handle small corruption complaints so as to allow the Inspectorate to focus on high impact cases.

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He told the clerics that the IG has decided to set up a Directorate of Special Investigations that is mandated to handle cases in the excess of Shillings 1 billion Shillings following complaints that they were was focusing on small fish.

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Msgr. Charles Kasibante said the apparent lack of concrete success of anti-corruption agencies, institutions and government structures to combat corruption is an indicator that something is lacking in the strategies being used.

"The religious leaders firmly believe that corruption in Uganda is a moral and value issue. Ugandans have abandoned their Godliness and values and are no longer each other's keeper and certainly majority of the officials in the civil service no longer listen to their conscience and this is what has made such officials self-seeking and self-aggrandizing," said Kasibante.

He said that the unethical conduct and moral bankruptcy of public officials have perpetuated the suffering of Ugandans from poverty, poor service delivery and gross mismanagement of the country.

He challenged government to enforce anti-corruption laws and also look more into nepotism and tribalism in government institutions, saying these are also big corruption tendencies. 

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The Ethics Minister, Simon Lokodo emphasized the need for religious leaders to weigh in strongly on the fight against corruption, saying the Church is best positioned to speak to people's conscience against corruption.

"This country is in your hands. It's only your voice that can be heard, shout out aloud and denounce corruption. Take this pivotal position, you are the best allies and we are going to partner with you," said Lokodo.

However, Rev. Canon Captain William Ongeng, the Church of Uganda Provincial Secretary tasked Lokodo to explain why government currently thinks that the Church is important in the fight and not before.

He said religious leaders are at various occasions pushed away in order not to speak out, which puts them in a weird situation.

But Reverend Canon Aaron Mwesigye, the Director of Religious Affairs of the Directorate for Ethics and Integrity in the office of the president, argued that the defects in the fight against corruption shouldn't be blamed on government alone, saying even religious organs have a problem with transparency and accountability.

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The Bishop of Mityana Diocese, Stephen Kazimba Mugalu cited the need for religious leaders to have a systematic way of packaging t anti-corruption message so that it can be easily understood by the masses. 

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