Corruption: Kagina battling bravely, but how sustainable are her heroics?

State structures in African countries are often inhabited by officials who rather line their pockets and please those above them than render a service to the public.

In the second and last part of an investigation carried out in Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria, journalists ANAS AREMEYAW ANAS, THEOPHILUS ABBAH and BENON HERBERT OLUKA highlight how courageous civil servants fight criminal syndicates and plunder.

However, going by the methods used in countries such as Uganda, the big-picture question becomes: are these approaches sustainable?

By the time Catherine Allen Kagina, commissioner general of the Ugandan Revenue Authority, retired in November 2014, public regard for her performance was so high that she joined a very small group of public servants formally honoured by parliament.

Unbeholden to powerful individuals, syndicates and practices within the tax organisation, the woman called ‘President Museveni’s golden girl’ had trimmed bloated departments from eleven to seven; done away with ‘permanent and pensionable’ employees (resulting in a twenty percent smaller bureaucracy) and technically improved systems, leading the manual-to-digital transformation of service provision at the tax office.

In this way, in ten years, the URA was transformed from “a den of thieves” (Museveni’s words), plagued by smuggling, under-valuation and under-declaration of income, to a sleek, […]