Charges dropped against Ugandan anti-corruption campaigner

By ACNS staff
Posted Mar 23, 2013

[Anglican Communion News Service] A retired Ugandan bishop arrested for distributing pamphlets calling for an end to high-level corruption has avoided going to jail.

Bishop Zac Niringiye has long been a strong critic of corrupt practices within the country and is at the forefront of advocating for transparency and accountability. In February, he and other anti-corruption campaigners, were arrested and held in jail briefly before being released on bail and ordered to return to answer the charges.

The police who arrested Niringiye claimed the pamphlets contained “false and subversive language.” The documents in fact highlighted the millions of shillings lost from the country’s coffers because of corrupt officials.

“I reported to the Police Station both on 11 and 18 March after my time away in U.K. and U.S.,” Niringiye wrote to his supporters. “When I reported on the 11 March, I was told to report again on 18 March because ‘the file was still with the Director of Public Prosecutions’.

“When I reported on 18 March, I was told that there was really no case against me and therefore did not have to report anymore to the Police. The Criminal Investigations Officer however said that if they needed me for any reason, he needed to be able to be in touch with my Lawyers, and so took their contacts!”

Niringiye is one of a growing number of people in Uganda joining the Black Monday Movement whose members wear black on Mondays as a visible sign of their opposition to high-level corruption.

Despite a relatively thriving economy, the 2005 World Bank survey revealed that Uganda loses about US$200 million a year through corruption. The Global Integrity Report of 2006 put the figure at about twice as much.

In the light of the corruption allegations in recent years, the World Bank Group last year began reviewing its development assistance to Uganda while also strengthening its own measures to ensure that its funds are used for their intended purposes.

Niringiye once proclaimed: “Corruption in Uganda is a leadership problem. It requires political solutions. The president should not fear to disappoint some of his friends by throwing them out when they are embellished with corruption.”