Socio-Political Drivers of Uganda's Political Integrity Challenges: Towards a Normative Ethical Framework
Since independence, Uganda has persistently experienced political integrity challenges which have particularly served to undermine the realisation of the common good. Amidst the persistence of these challenges, the current NRM regime has established an integrity system comprised in laws, policies and institutions which are ideally expected to address the political integrity challenges. A mismatch, however, stands – that amidst a robust integrity system political abuse have enormously continued to manifest. This study, therefore, investigated the socio-political drivers of Uganda’s political integrity challenges with a view of developing a normative ethical framework for improving political integrity in Uganda. I specifically sought to analyse the conceptual contestations on political integrity; describe Uganda’s experience ofpolitical integrity challenges; examine the socio-political drivers of Uganda’s political integrity deficit; and develop a normative ethical framework for improving Uganda’s political integrity profile. To do this, I deployed a qualitative approach. I used three major methods to obtain the data, including document analysis, key informant interviews, and focus group discussions. The thesis drew on two theoretical lenses: neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics and the morality of power games. In addition to the two theoretical lenses, the study further deployed conceptual analysis, emancipatory criticism, and the historical method in analysis. Findings from the study revealed that the concept of political integrity needed to be analysed in order to address the contestations and controversies that surrounded it. Political integrity, as argued in this thesis, has largely been conceptualised following two major philosophical perspectives – moralist view and the amoral view, which the study associates with serious shortcomings. Therefore, a proper conceptualisation of political integrity should be in line with political behaviours that are in tandem with ethical ideals such as respect for human life, respect for human dignity, preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, and stewardship in use of public resources. Further efforts were made to ascertain Uganda’s experience of political integrity challenges and the drivers of Uganda’s political integrity challenges. Some of the drivers include the colonial experience, economic hindrances, lacunas in the legal regime, social diversities and the crisis of nationhood among others. In order to appreciate these drivers and the persistence of political integrity challenges, the study contends that these should be looked at in the general context of the nature of the state. In essence, the post-colonial Ugandan state was considered a hybrid of democratic and autocratic rule which is predominantly oppressive and exploitative in nature. This character of the Ugandan state buttresses the highlighted drivers, and further explains the attitude of political actors towards addressing political abuses. For a functional political integrity system, this study develops an emancipatory normative ethical framework for Uganda (ENEFU) based on cultivation of a civic culture among the citizens. It was noted that if the civic culture is to be realised, civic ethics education ought to be deployed to have citizens cultivated in three major aspects of: civic knowledge, civic virtues, and civic skills. With such civic competencies, citizens would ably influence and affect the political direction of the country. However, considering the level of entrenchment of political abuse in the country, the study was alive to the fact of the various obstacles that would likely undermine the effectiveness of a civic culture in containing political abuse. Therefore, the study suggests a nonviolent civil disobedience as an alternative remedy to the persistent political integrity challenges. Findings from this study open up spaces for studies on civil disobedience in a space where issues of political integrity are a challenge, like it is in Uganda.