We – my intern Kim Verkade and I – take a taxi to downtown Kampala. Halfway, we are stopped by a police woman in a pristine white uniform. She tells the driver to show his license and seems somewhat annoyed when she finds out that there is nothing wrong with it. She then asks him (as the driver told us later): “So what is wrong with your car?” He knows he has to come up with something: “The left front tire is not so good.”
She is satisfied now and tells the driver to walk with her to the back of the car. In the rearview mirror, I see money change hands. After some negotiating, he has managed to talk it down to ten thousand Ugandan shillings: about three and a half US dollar. She instructs him: “don’t tell the muzungus (whites)!” Back in the car, the driver explains: “The police will stop you often, these days. It is the time to pay the school fees”.
According to the latest East Africa Bribery Index, the Uganda Police Force is the most bribery-prone institution in the five East African Community partner states (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda). Bribery was demanded or “suggested” from about 75% of the people seeking service from the police. On a positive note, though: the amounts involved were generally not impressive: considering the average payment made, the police only ranked 24th.
Generally, the East Africa Bribery Index shows that Uganda institutions have continued to decline in the fight against graft. Overall, the country is ranked second after Burundi. Among the region’s top 10 most bribery-prone institutions are four Ugandan institutions: Police, Judiciary, Uganda Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Public Service. The Uganda Prisons improved slightly, in absolute terms and in the Ugandan ranking: they moved from fifth to seventh.
p.s. The police officers in the photos have nothing to do with the story above and I don’t want to imply that they are corrupt.
- Jan Banning
May 4th 1954, Almelo
Dutch photographer and artist. Banning was born in the Netherlands from Dutch-East-Indies parents. He studied social and economic history at the Radboud University Nijmegen, and has been working as a photographer since 1981. A central theme of Banning's practice is state power, having produced series about the long-term consequences of war and the world of government bureaucracy.