Over the weekend I spent a day in Isingiro, a rural district in western Uganda, with a few youths who consider themselves more educated and knowledgeable than the village people.
We had discussions raging from the coming elections and the level of unemployment in Uganda with emphasis on university leavers.
According to Richard one of the youths I interacted with, it is impossible to get a job in Uganda without paying some kind of bribe.
Alternatively, Richard says, the other option to land a job in Uganda is if you have a well connected family member, a friend or you involving in a sexual relationship with someone with the job.
He narrated an incident that happened after the last national census exercise. A certain councilor supervising the exercise was supposed to pay them their last part payment for the work they had done.
The last payment was supposed to be Ushs30, 000 and the councilor made them sign for it; only for him to pay them Ushs20, 000 with their consent.
Richard and his friends didn’t complain because to him the job could have been given to another people or he might need another favor from the councilor in future.
So sacrificing Ushs10, 000 at that point was no big deal. He needed to sustain the relationship with the influential councilor for more deals.
There are two things I want to put emphasis on; the mentality that you cannot get a job in Uganda without bribing someone is a wrong perception, a vice we are encouraging.
I know friends who had very good grades and were called by organisations immediately we left campus because someone recommended them.
That is not corruption, that’s a benefit of being smart. I also know a number of people who have done interviews and have gotten jobs on merit because they proved they had capability to do the job.
Most people will argue that I do not know the inside story of how the friends mentioned above got their jobs apart from the stories they told me.
There is no benefit in paying money to get a job or using your body to get a job instead it is demeaning to the victim. It must be stopped.
Let’s imagine you decide to pay someone to get you a job: by the time you think of corrupting an official, there are other 50 people or more who have thought of doing the same.
An employer who can get money from a job seeker will not hesitate to take money from whoever offers more to get the same job. The result of such will be losing money and having no job in the end.
The other issue is allowing people to cheat us of services that we have worked for or deserve. Imagine signing for Ushs30, 000 for a job you did and an accountant paying you Ushs20, 000 because you might want a favor from them him the next day.
How do 20 educated people let a councilor they elected into office cheat them?
A councilor is like an employee in an Organisation. If an accountant wants to cheat you, what’s wrong with asking for help from his superiors?
If he makes you sign for more money and gives you less, it means that he is pocketing the rest of the money and going home with a clean record.
If Ugandans still offer bribes at their own initiation, if we still encourage officials to use us for their personal benefits because we are desperate, then we cannot come up strong to criticize them being corrupt.
We have no moral authority to demand for better services if we are partaking in corrupt practices.
There is no way the voice of the majority will be hard when we still harbor selfish interests inside us. Change starts with you and me. Let’s started together for better change.