I have a feeling it is not a coincidence that this story (see below) has come out soon after the suspension of the hunting licenses. It seems that the new board at Uganda Wildlife Authority is taking its responsibilities seriously.
This also brings more questions to the table in discussions around whether sport hunting should be allowed here. Similar to my feelings about oil development, I believe sport hunting could be of benefit to Uganda if it is managed properly. However, there are serious issues that must be dealt with before a final decision is made – both in terms of determining accurate wildlife populations and the Wildlife Authority’s ability to have a fair process for granting hunting concessions.
I don’t believe that people enter their chosen profession planning to become corrupt. Certainly nobody would go into the wildlife conservation field in order to get rich. So at what point do selfish aims start to outweigh your commitment to the animals you originally set out to save? I am sure that as you move up in a system where corruption is so pervasive, you must look around and say “everybody else is doing it, why shouldn’t I get some, too?”
So what does it take to maintain the idealism and integrity that I believe most people start out with? When Mapesa and the other top brass at the Wildlife Authority visit the parks, do they ever go on game drives to see the wildlife that they are charged with protecting to remind themselves how amazing these parks are? Or do they just sit in offices in meetings all day, cut off from the natural beauty?
And what about the concessionaires who are presumably paying the bribes? Will they be prosecuted? Obviously they shouldn’t be paying bribes, but if sport hunting is your business, and the only way to engage in that business is to pay bribes, what options does that leave you? You could choose not to operate in Uganda, but I’ll venture the bold statement here and say that you would probably have to avoid operating in East Africa altogether if you want to stay totally clean.
If you are anti-hunting, it might be easy to just say “well fine, then – stop hunting.” But it’s not that easy. Let me give a different example. What if you are a missionary group that wants to build wells in a village but have to pay off the local councilor to be allowed to operate there? Do you withhold the water from people in need because your ethics preclude you from giving the “gift” to the councilor? This is not just something I am making up – this is the order of business here, so it is a valid ethical dilemma.
Corruption is a very complex issue. How do you root out a problem when the only people with the authority to eliminate it are benefiting the most from it?
From New Vision Online:
Top Wildlife bosses suspended over graftMonday, 9th August, 2010
By Gerald Tenywa
THE head of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Moses Mapesa, and another boss are forced on leave over corruption. Two other bosses resigned. Joseph Tibeijuka, the director for finance, is now the acting executive director. The board chairman, Dr. Boysier Oumar Muballe, said the suspension would help the authority investigate the matter without interference. He cited the award of concessions and the creation of illegal departments for the action.“The board has taken a decision to send Moses Mapesa on forced leave with effect from today August 9,” said Muballe. “We have instituted an audit over a number of suspicions.”
Read the rest: New Vision Online : Top Wildlife bosses suspended over graft.
Mark D. Jordahl – Kampala