On July 29, the Inspectorate of Government (IG) the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), united against the corruption blighting our wonderful land, called upon the heavens to join Uganda’s anti-corruption fight.
The IG boss, Beti Kamya, stressed that Uganda being a God-fearing nation, God must be at the centre of the fight. Kamya worried that with the passing of the national budget, the fat corrupt leeches were already furiously calculating how much of that money they would pocket.
Last year, the IG reported that Uganda loses Shs 20 billion to corruption annually. Thus, the IG, IRCU, and others met to pray that God would move mightily and smite the evil of corruption.
A preacher once said with a wry smile, “Some things are not for praying about.” Thus, we can grandstand in pompous ceremony like kitenge-clad high priests and craft elegant prayers, but some things are not for praying about.
Before we prayed, we walked. In December 2019, the IG organized a walk against corruption led by President Yoweri Museveni. Museveni, fit as a fiddle, walked and made corruption tired. By the end of the walk, corruption was no more in this land.
Alas, non-believers like Rev Fr. Gaetano Batanyenda, the former chairperson for Kick Corruption out of Uganda, commented: “What can show Ugandans that Museveni’s actions in fighting corruption have yielded fruits? Maybe he will walk for two hours yet he has been in power for over 30 years and failed to kick out corruption.”
The Daily Monitor newspaper stated that after the productive walk, Museveni denounced the corrupt, warning, “...I know many of you are corrupt. If you see I have not yet arrested you, don’t think you are safe. I am just still looking for enough evidence.”
Speaking of evidence of corruption, on December 9, 2021, the IG in yet another ritual against corruption, invited Museveni to launch the lifestyle audit initiative. Kamya, pumped with optimism, explained this initiative would finally net the big fish. Museveni, though, was not too keen on Kamya's innovation. He indulged Kamya and clarified, "We are still lucky tear our corrupt people are corrupt here; they steal the money, and put it here, you see a five-star hotel from corruption. Now if you only concentrate on the lifestyle, then they will take the money out and you will have no evidence here.”
Thus, inadvertently, Museveni also indicated he had found the elusive evidence of corruption in his Uganda. We have the evidence but yes, let us pray. A March 2021 Afrobarometer report on Ugandans’ perceptions of corruption documented that Uganda has at least nine wonderful laws against corruption and six robust anti- corruption offices.
The Afrobarometer report indicated that majority of Ugandans think corruption is getting worse and that government is doing poorly in fighting the vice. Those Ugandans must be myopic non-believers.
Afrobarometer also underlined that many Ugandans engage in corruption by mainly paying bribes to access government services. The findings show the poor are more vulnerable to demands for bribes.
Maybe we should go slow on these prayers. We might find that we are most amusing to God when we pray against our corruption. For what do we expect the heavens to do? Snuff out the hearts of the corrupt? What if we, alongside half of the country, drop dead instantly because of prayers smiting the corrupt?
What if the religious leaders leading the prayers are cut down right there at the microphone as they stand together in perfect unity because they prayed that God would cut down the corrupt? Dear Lord, do not heed these prayers!
A Christian congregation in the beautiful Kigezi was quite miffed over the president’s gift to their bishop, reported The Observer. The president gifted the bishop a brand new Renault vehicle worth $40,000. Oh but the accursed covetousness that assail us!
Why should one bishop be saddled with a mere Renault when the president has freely given other religious leaders powerful monstrous Toyota Landcruisers. The congregation was mortified - who goes to preach the Word of God amidst the hills and valleys of Kigezi in a Renault? What would Jesus do? However, the president, like an absent-minded generous grandfather doting on his spoiled bazzukulu/ grandchildren, leveled up.
The president’s office delivered a brand new Toyota Landcruiser worth $130,000; the one that glints in the Kampala sun; the one that effortlessly roars over the hills, potholes, and valleys; the one that on ignition, purrs like the grand machine that the car is; the one that makes speeding on our dangerous roads an elegant experience.
That car is the chosen one. The congregation was happy. The prelate was delighted. The Church is set to reach many more people now. But yes, let us close our eyes and pray corruption out of our land. Let us press our eyelids shut as we stand on the grassy expanse of the Kololo ceremonial grounds, a ground that was once free to the public but now stands guarded by menacing soldiers, closed off to the public.
As we pray, let us reflect on the Soroti by-election. Let us lift up our angelic voices and drown out the opposition laments of electoral violence and malpractice. Let us lift up holy hands as the government spokesperson asserts unapologetically his right to violence in the face of arguments he deems insulting.
Our minister for Ethics and Integrity, a deified ministry, might be deeper than most in prayer for the bread of ethics and integrity is backbreaking work. This minister is clearly not spending enough time in prayer. Let us pray!
The writer is a tayaad muzzukulu.