Evidence shows that our country continues on a downward trend in terms of
corruption. At the last count, we had lost over three trillion Uganda shillings to theft
of public resources. In the Black Monday newsletter for last month, it was clear this
theft of public resources has been with us for quite some time. Even as all this goes on, individual women most times unnoticed, have made a contribution to fighting this vice. As
we celebrate International Women’s Day, we share the perspectives of two women who
have “Inspired Change” in their own ways to combat corruption. These perspectives
demonstrate that if all of us played our part,may be theft of public resources could be a
thing of the past.
I quit my teaching job to fight corruption Meet Joventa Twinomuhangi; a courageous
woman whose sole aim of quitting her teaching profession was to fight corruption in Kabale District.
Remarkably, this Ikumba Sub- county woman councilor joined a group of councilors
at the district to censure the secretary for works who kept submitting a report of roads
to be worked yet the funds remaining on the account.
Joventa could not rest until she took action. She started gathering signatures to censure
the secretary for failure to implement and lying to constituents on Radio that the
roads had been worked on. After the censure,the District executive leadership called
in female councilors to withdraw signaturesbut she refused and said that she would fight
to the end.
A team from the district then went to her home thinking that they would use her close
brother to influence her to withdraw her signature.She boldly told them that she was
voted in by the community members and will not keep quiet until they get proper service
Unfortunately, one cowardly councilor withdrew his signature leaving them short of
the minimum number required, so their censure became invalid. But it did not end there.
The battle raged on as the censured secretary took them to courts of law. Joventa did not
retreat. She stood her ground and formed a group that explained to all female councilors
to stand firm and attend the court session.
The executive still wanted to use her brother as “a bait,”. Through him, they
hoped that they would influence her to mobilize other councilors to reconcile with the
Secretary. She courageously came out with a statement that if they want them to reconcile,
they should first work on the roads and retract the false information that they made
over the radio that all roads had been worked on, and clarify that she did not go to council
to make friends with councilors. She was voted into council by voters who knew her
Her voters know her for asserting her position in demanding for their civic rights and
her statements are always aired out after every council sitting because she is critical and does not let any vital issue pass her by. She is known for her transparency, consistency,
openness and being principled. Her voters are proud of her because she is heard time
and again talking on their behalf.
The community members have gained confidence in her and submit their concerns
to her because they know they will be submitted to the authorities. She is invited to
talk to groups, associations and she willingly goes with Village Budget Clubs (groups of
community activists that advocate for accountable leadership and equitable service
delivery) to address Parents Teachers Association(PTA) meetings and community dialogues.
The community members see her as their advocate because she submits all community
concerns and follow them up. She is now popular because when the media have
an issue to discuss, they run to her.
Such stories of charismatic women like Joventa should not be surprising because the
burden of corruption is most felt by womenand mothers; especially in the rural areas of
the country. Therefore, women have to take lead in fighting against the same vice that affectstheir progress and livelihood.
The truth of the matter is that this fight is not going to be an easy walk. Like in Joventa’s
case, women are faced with several hurdles like their capacity being undermined
and the fact that the thieves are very determined in what they are doing. This shouldn’t
deter women but instead give them courage to soldier on because it will take a few who
are bold to stand up to the corrupt.
Going against the odds to fighting theft of public funds Lydia Twebingye 43, is a woman councilor of Mpumudde Parish in Mpumudde Sub County, lyantonde district, who has made her mark in the fight against theft of public funds. When Lydia decided to fight
the theft of public funds in various public institutions, she was determined
that nothing was going to stop her.
She started by educating her community members about their role in stopping
corruption at an individual level by highlighting the dangers of giving money to Health Workers of Mpumudde Health Center for access to basic health services.
Before Lydia alerted the public, health workers were taking advantage of community
members. Pregnant mothers living in poverty were the main victims as they were
charged money for services and items that should be free.
Lydia rolled up her sleeves to do something; she started by making impromptu visits
to the health center to find out from the patients how they were treated and the challenges
they were facing. She takes advantage of all the platforms that are available to her,
churches, weddings, sub-county meetings, parish level meetings,village meetings and even burial ceremonies in the whole Subcounty- anywhere she can get an opportunity to talk to the public.
She took her campaign a notchhigher when she started school outreaches with the same message. Her target was not only the students who were challengedto live upright lives:
She also reminds the parents and teachers about their roles in ensuring better education services and on the better use of Universal Primary Education (UPE )funds which were mismanaged and not allocated to intended activities.The battle has not been easy as she faces resistance from civil servants; difficulty in getting the credible information about health centers performance as well as schools.
The community members are also scared of giving information about whether they are accessing services at the health centers or not. This has however not hindered her attempts
and resilience in her creation of awareness to the public, she has is not about to give up.
Community members, sub county officials and fellow councilors have joined Lydia in
her fight against theft of public funds after realizing that her efforts was paying off.
Therefore, as we commemorate this International Women’s Day, we should be reminded
that it is possible to be a person of integrity and play a role in ending theft in
our communities. Now is the time more than ever when resilient women are needed at the
frontline in the fight against theft of public resources.
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