Corruption is a widespread problem — from a major oil company using secret companies to bribe politicians in Brazil, to small and medium-sized enterprises paying off local officials to expedite business procedures in Uganda.
This iniquity is all around us and many a times we never notice it; and if we do we ignore it because it has become a culture of some sorts. A behavior we have adapted to and accepted in our society.
It is no longer evil to bribe a good school to let your low grade child in or even for a doctor to ask you if you have extra cash on you before you receive treatment in a government owned free hospital ( yes I know of the low pay those guys receive effects of this vice).
The most common example of this vice are seen among our leaders, politicians to be exact; policemen, business men who want their businesses vetted as good before the public; for sure I can’t mention most of them. But know this, everything that you do that makes you look around before you do it in regard to public funds or property (this only happens if you still have a conscience) is among.
Considering that it is happening and it needs to be stopped or reduced (I doubt this will ever happen, we need Jesus) civil society needs to take on the challenge as it did with government and spread best practices in anti-corruption compliance to SMEs in emerging markets.
In the case of SMEs with limited resources to invest in compliance programs and train staff, NGOs have or can help chambers of commerce advocate for reforms such as faster licensing, provide technical assistance on compliance programs, facilitate formal contracts with third-party monitoring as well as transaction-specific integrity pacts or coalitions to bring transparency to projects such as government tenders through public.
We really need strong legal systems in this country if this sleaze is to be ‘kicked out of Uganda’. This is crucial and NGOs can advocate for clearer anti-corruption laws. Even though the activities of NGOs in this country have been deemed less important, the noise needs to be amplified a little bit more.
While local aid groups have traditionally worked with governments (Uganda Auditor General’s office) on establishing transparency, and with civil society to raise awareness through public shame campaigns (Black Monday), the need to focus on private sector is high.
NGOs and civil society do have a major role to play, but we are still in the stages of figuring out how to do that in a business environment, advocacy doesn’t help with private transactions. What is the plan?