Corruption! What does it really mean? Diversion of public funds by those in authority? Bribing of public officials by common masses to get a favor? Irrespective of how it comes, it is one factor that has kept most African nations on the ground. However, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda wants to end corruption in the country. Consequently, he has been leading walks against corruption.
Veteran, Members of Parliament, and other people came out to join the president in the six-day march through the jungle. This is coming a month after a walk in the capital. The 195 km walk started from Galamba in the north of Kampala and will end in Birembo in the south of the capital. This is symbolic because it is the path through which his guerrilla forces seized power from Obote over three decades ago. Speaking to AFP Saturday, the president’s senior press secretary, Don Wanyama said,
“The great trek started today and will last six days. This is a journey that the president is leading, a journey through the past to appreciate the present. The journey will take a week through the jungle, a route the liberators led by Yoweri Museveni took to liberate the country.”
The Popular Opinion Among the Masses
On the day of the walk, streets were closed forcing thousands of people to walk. While everyone agrees that corruption is due to become a topic in history classes, many are questioning the motive of the walk. Coming a few months to the Presidential polls, are calling it an attempt to garner re-election support. Pop-star turned President Yoweri Museveni’s main opposition leader, Bobi Wine, said,
“This (trek) is part of the wasteful ventures government is taking aimed at boosting his dwindling support among Ugandans. My advice is rather than spending taxpayers’ money on such trips, Museveni should know time is up for him to leave power. Time for hoodwinking peasants has passed him. The peasants and everyone in Uganda are demanding change and no less.”
Bobi Wine was not alone this time. Even the ordinary masses doubt the motive of the walk. A commercial driver, Emmanuel Luyinda, said, “walking is not the solution”. An accountant, David Toyi said the timing was suspiciously close to the elections when “many people have benefited from corruption”.
President Yoweri Museveni is one of Africa’s longest-serving president. He took over the mantle of leadership after playing a role to end the rule of Idi Amin and Milton Obote. There are indications that he will be seeking to extend his stay in office beyond 2021. Uganda has remained 149th on the Transparency International list with a score of 26/100.
President Yoweri Museveni’s End of Year Speech
Like previous years, the president’s speech was filled with hope and promise. From criticizing those destroying the environment to praising the security officials, the president was tough on corruption. The president also promised a better economy for Ugandans. You can read the slightly abridged version of the speech here.
The jungle trek is by far the most drastic by the president. Before the walk, President Yoweri Museveni addressed a crowd of people. In his speech, he called corrupt people parasites. Also, he said it was the responsibility of political leaders to make the economy better.
“Corrupt people are parasites. They are parasites because they get wealth which they did not earn. [People need jobs] because if people don’t have jobs, they don’t have income, the temptation is high. [We need to support the expansion of commercial agriculture and industry services]. That’s how we can create jobs and wealth and income for people.”