Below: Richard Abwola (L) and two of his disabled colleagues waiting to participate in anti-corruption race in Gulu town to mark the war against corruption.
“On International Anti-Corruption Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to ending the deceit and dishonesty that threaten the 2030 Agenda and our efforts to achieve peace and prosperity for all on a healthy Planet”- Ban Ki moon.
“The fight against corruption is so important that even we the disabled must join in the crusade since it affects all of us. Corruption does not know disability. Funds and projects meant for us, the disabled, are always diverted. That is why I and other disabled persons are participating in the marathon run”- Richard Abwola.
GULU-UGANDA: If you ever imagined that marathon race is only the preserve of the strong hearted and able-bodied like Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich, who won a gold medal in the 2013 Olympic marathon race, then you are mistaken.
Friday December 9, 2016, was international anti-corruption day. In Gulu town in Northern Uganda, the day was marked with a marathon run under the theme: “Reject and Report Corruption-Your Responsibility for Improved Service Delivery”.
The run, which attracted people from all walks of life including school children and the disabled, some of who were on wheelchairs, took place in the early morning of Friday so as to avoid the scotching December sun.
According to 34 year-old Richard Abwola, a disabled person who uses wheelchair for his movements, the war against corruption is so important that even a disabled person like him should not shy away in fighting it.
Abwola participated in the marathon race, alongside others in wheelchairs like him, which was organized by a consortium of over 20 Non-Governmental Organizations led by ActionAid-Uganda to fight the vise.
“The fight against corruption is so important that even we, the disabled, must join in the crusade since it affects all of us. Corruption does not know disability. Funds and projects meant for us, the disabled, are always diverted. That is why I and other disabled persons are participating in the marathon run”, says Abwola.
Abwola is a married man with four children who earns his living by repairing electronic appliances like radios, televisions and phones at the Gulu Central Market. He has managed to push his eldest child up to senior two in a secondary school in Gulu.
Fifteen year old Daniel Ouma, who also participated in the marathon race, defines corruption as “something you do for financial gains which others do not know of”. He is a primary six pupil of UNIFAT primary school.
According to businessman Walter Komakech, corruption in Uganda, which he says is actually theft, is always given different names according to generations and regions.
“During the reign of Dictator Idi Amin, corruption was called “MAGENDO” (meaning black market)”, says Komakech.
On October 31, 2013 the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption and designated December 9, as International Anti-Corruption Day, to raise awareness on corruption and the role of the Convention in combating and preventing it.
Corruption is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that affects all countries in the world. Corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral process, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existing is the solicitation of bribes and making economic gains at the expense of the community. It is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies.
The 2016 Anti-corruption Day was commemorated under the theme: “United against corruption for development, peace and security”.
According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), more than $1trillion is paid in bribes and more than $2.6 trillion are stolen annually through corruption. This is more than 5% of Global GDP in developing countries and ten times the amount of official development assistance.
State of corruption in Africa: case of Uganda
According to the Mbeki Panel Report on illicit Financial Flows, Africa is losing at least $50 billion annually to illicit transactions.
“Some reports suggest that the continent may have lost up to $1 trillion in the past 50 years yet more than 400 million Africans live on less than $1.25 a day”, says ActionAid-Uganda. It further estimates that Uganda may be losing more funds through corruption than what the country receives as aid per year, meaning that Uganda is capable of funding its own budget.
Ironically, Uganda has had a rather strong legal and institutional framework to combat corruption but this has not translated into desired outcome in as far as fighting corruption is concerned.