Addressing corruption in the public service: A virtue ethical critique of Uganda's integrity system
MetadataShow full item record
In most of Uganda’s public service and the general society, corruption has remained a big challenge that particularly undermines the provision of the public good. The persistence of corruption in the public service has been followed by poor service delivery which frustrates the ethical ideals of realising the good life and the good society. Amidst such persistence, the government of Uganda has a set of institutions, laws, and policies which form an integrity system established to fight corruption. The elements of this system that are discussed in the study include anti-corruption institutions like the DEI and IG, and the legal framework with laws such as Anti-Corruption Act 2009, and its Amendment of 2015. But even with this integrity system in place which is ideally expected to fight and alleviate corruption, this problem has nonetheless persisted in Uganda’s public service. This study, therefore, attempted to address this problem by providing a long-term and lasting solution. Four specific objectives were addressed which included ascertaining the basic cause of corruption, describing the phenomenon of this vice, examining Uganda’s integrity system vis-à-vis the fight against corruption, and identifying the necessary interventions that can lead to an effective integrity system to ably fight the vice. The analysis and discussion was based on three theories which include virtue ethics which was used as the major theoretical framework for the study, Kwame Gyekye’s moral revolution theory that also inclines more towards virtue but from an African perspective and specifically targets corruption, and Lawrence Kohlberg’s moral development theory that complement the virtue ethical theories especially in suggesting strategies of promoting an effective integrity system that can help contain the vice. As a step towards addressing this vice, an explanation of the genesis of the problem was done by pointing out that it all starts with the wrong theorisation of the basic cause of corruption. Consequently, efforts to ascertain the basic cause of corruption in Uganda were undertaken following virtue ethics parameters. The concept of corruption was clarified through scrutinising the commonly advanced definitions of corruption. And as a result, the study comes up with a definition of corruption as ‘a vicious act involving public officers who clandestinely use their official positions to unethically satisfy their private interests at the expense of the public interest.’ Further efforts were made to scrutinise the commonly advanced causes of corruption like the poor economic conditions, weak laws, and African traditional cultural values, among others. An observation was made that these factors mentioned are not basic but rather secondary causes. Therefore, the basic cause of corruption according to the study is the vicious character of many public officers and other members of the society. In light of the above, it was revealed that Uganda’s integrity system does not seek to address the basic cause of corruption, something which explains the persistence of corruption despite the various interventions in place. And if the problem is to be contained, then a strategy has to be developed to deal with this basic cause through the cultivation of a virtuous citizenry. Consequently, I suggested an integrational approach with three possible options of cultivation of virtuous citizens through virtue/character education, developing a mechanism of identifying virtuous role models, and strict enforcement of the laws on corruption as a realistic remedy to the problem.