Hub for Investigative Media (HIM) is an organization that was conceived to get active in promoting investigative media with the sole aim of promoting good governance and accountability in the country. Though the laws that empower media to promote good governance and accountability are in place, they have not been thoroughly harnessed to create a positive impact in society, especially now that the country is facing unprecedented corruption. It was stated by one wise man “Evil thrives when all the good men keep quiet.”
With the discovery of more natural resources in the country and the ongoing economic growth, it is expected that corruption will also increase if the laws that are already in place are not fully enforced to tackle the vice. Apart from the chronic poor service delivery within this country, Uganda loses 500 billion shillings to corruption and this figure is likely to triple in the next two years as more money continues to flow into the economy. On top of that, reckless and extravagant expenditure within government continues unabated while the ordinary citizens suffer poor or no service delivery.
HIM is putting to practice the Access to Information (ATI) Act 2005 to ensure that government ministries, agencies, authorities, commissions and other public bodies do abide by this law by providing information relating to these organizations and their operations to the public.
The Access to Information Act was enacted to give effect to Article 41 of the Constitution of Uganda by providing the right to access information held by organs of the state with the aim of promoting an efficient, effective, transparent and accountable government.
However, this important law has not been put into vigorous use by the media that is the biggest player in ensuring that the public remains informed about what goes on in government, as the eyes and ears of the public. And yet this is the only instrument available to the media to ensure that the government remains accountable to the public through disclosing information that is held by the state, apart from some exemptions as stipulated in the law. At HIM, we strongly believe that ATI is a very powerful tool that should be made use of in the mission to ensure good governance and accountability.
On the other hand, HIM is also out to ensure that the provisions of the Leadership Code Act that mandate public officials to declare their wealth are abided with. The Leadership Code provides that government officers are required to declare their assets, wealth and liabilities within six months after taking over office and after that every after two years to the Inspector General of Government (IGG), so as to check improper amassing of wealth by these officials through corrupt practices. As it is now, the IGG is in no position to disclose this king of information to the public due to some lacuna within the law. With this kind of situation, HIM intends to lobby the Prime Minister and other relevant government bodies to fill the gaps in the law and ensure that public officials abide by this provision.
With corruption being reported in different government department, is very vital that the Leadership Code Act provisions are enforced to be able to monitor private acquisitions made by public officials and whether these acquisitions are legally acquired, and, if need be, whistle blow to the necessary authorities.