KAMPALA – Barely a year after Uganda National Bureau of Statistics named Police as the most corrupt institution; another report says the last time they had contact with the police they paid a bribe.
The report, from Sauti za Wananchi, baseline survey, August-September 2017 where 2000 people were interviewed indicates that half of the population say the last time they had contact with the police they paid a bribe.
The report entitled; Ugandans’ views on governance, information and citizen engagement says the majority (60%) of the citizens who had contact with the police last year paid a bribe either directly requested (47%) or expected (13%) in order to get assistance or speed up services.
“Out of the 2000 citizens interviewed, half of them (about 50%) said they paid a bribe to police,” reads the report in part.
Sauti za Wananchi is a nationally-representative, high-frequency mobile phone panel survey that collected data from 1878 respondents in the baseline survey conducted in September and October 2018.
Ms. Marie Nanyanzi the lead researcher said during the survey, citizens reported high incidences of bribes asked from police especially when they have relatives in custody.
She explained that citizens experience fewer requests or expectations of bribes when interacting with other service providers.
“Compared to how often they are asked for or expected to pay bribes, citizens are least likely to pay bribes to water suppliers and political parties etc,” reads the report in part.
The Twaweza’s sauti za Wananchi survey comes barely a year after another report by Uganda Bureau of Statistic (UBOS), a government agency after a National Service Delivery Survey of 2015 based on 10,101 Ugandan respondents put the police at 75 percent as far as bribery, fraud, and extortion are concerned.
“Majority of the respondents ranked the police as the most corrupt government institution. There is a need for strengthening enforcement of laws on corruption,” read the report.
The Twaweza’s Sauti za Wananchi says further that although a substantial number of citizens think paying a bribe can be acceptable, this does not bode well for efforts by government or others to address corruption.
The report says that for governance to work citizens need to be engaged and government be responsive to that engagement.
The report explains that these data highlight gaps on both sides of this relationship and that at the same time it is positive to see that citizens are engaged in education, believe in the power of collective action and see areas of strength in government work. “These can provide solid building blocks for constructive engagement in the future”.
“We also find a worrying sense among many citizens that they are powerless to influence government – blaming both bureaucracy and powerful elites for making it difficult for an ordinary citizen to make their voice heard. On the other hand, when it comes to the prospects for change brought about by collective action, citizens are more positive, with majorities arguing that corruption and the national economic situation can be improved in this way,” reads the report further.
The data highlight the need to tackle some of the pressing governance challenges in the country with a dual approach and the data provide insight into areas of weakness for the government to address; particularly around health services, the cost of living and corruption.
Mr Emilian Kayima the Uganda police force spokesperson said bribery as a form of corruption was of great concern to the police leadership and that a team has been set up to deal with the vice.
He explained that besides revival of 999, the official emergency telephone number, police has also released toll-free number; 200019, 0800199199 and 0800199299 through which the public can report corrupt officers to police’s Professional Standards Unit (PSU).
“And more than 70 police officers have been arrested over various offences ranging from extortion, bribery and concealing exhibits by PSU. Most of the officers have since been suspended from their duties pending ongoing inquiries,” said Mr. Kayima.