By E. K Benj, Uganda
In attempt to fight the maleficent theft of public resources, civic and anti-corruption activists in Uganda launched a campaign in November 2012 christened the “Black Monday Campaign”. This launch followed what was seen as ineffective efforts by Uganda Government to bring down corruption.
The Black Monday Campaign like other vibrant social movements evolved as an organic process. It was not informed by a formal systematic strategic planning process but it was informed by a felt citizen need and spontaneous actions.
The Campaign sought to mobilize citizens to plinth a sustained assault against the injustice of theft of public funds. The ultimate result was to see that integrity in public life restored through a citizen-led process that rejects theft of public money.
Black Monday therefore did not focus on all theft in every part of society but on theft of public funds. Sources to HICGI News Agency explain that this is because theft of public funds is theft of resources that citizens contribute to a government to function. And add that when citizens do not pay tax they are criminals – who are labelled tax-evaders. It is therefore imperative that when public officials steal taxes and other public money with impunity they should be seen as criminals that should be rejected and brought to book.
Where It Began
At Human Rights Network Uganda -HURINET a non-governmental organization founded in 1993 whose mission is foster the promotion, protection and respect of human rights in Uganda through linking and strengthening the capacity of member organizations aswell as working towards a Ugandan society, free of human rights abuse. HURINET on November 12th 2012 and several Civil Society Organisations decided to ‘close shop’ for a day. It was unprecedented by NGOs in Uganda and at the end of that week; the Black Monday Movement was born with Lead Organizations including Uganda National NGO Forum, Action Aid International Uganda, Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, DENIVA, Uganda Youth Network, Forum for Women in Democracy and others rallying a call to wear black clothes every Monday as a sign of people’s resolve against theft of public funds and shun corruption at a personal level.
Others measures were to isolate all public money thieves and denounce them wherever encountered, Boycott all businesses and enterprises of the corrupt , supporting Ugandans working honestly, Demand political action from the State against public money thieves, Speak to at least 5 Ugandans about dangers of theft of public funds and other actions needed.
While the campaign started off with protesting against the theft of public funds with impunity and demanding for the return of these funds, there arose a growing need to shine a light onto those who were serving the country with integrity especially in the civil and political service.
The campaign promoters realized that it was also important for citizens to understand that Black Monday was not to fight theft of public funds for the sake of fighting theft but that the fight against theft of public funds is a fight to restore integrity in the management and stewardship of public funds.
At the level of implementation, they reechoed the importance of citizens standing to gain from a fully functioning state that treats them with dignity and provides quality services.
Therefore, all activities of Black Monday were for a focus on working with citizens to liberate themselves from a system that cordons corruption and pursue civic and non-violent means to deal with the corrupt added our sources.
In that regard, the Black Monday Campaign was to focus on mobilizing citizen’s action through;
Voter power: Use votes to choose the right leaders.
Tax power: Demand full transparency and accountability of all taxes and other public money
Participation power: Be informed, take action, challenge the corrupt and do not rest until you see decisive action
Work through these three ‘power-centers’ anchored in a process they believed builds on a sustained and country-wide consciousness-raising campaign to reach millions of citizens as well as recruiting citizens from all walks of like to join the anti-theft campaign.
Sources disassociated themselves from misconception that it was a political party interested in capturing power Started by Bishop Zac Niringiye because thought to have presidential ambitions, donor-driven agenda and thus a conduit for foreign interests in Uganda; Black is evil, it is bad and satanic amongst others.
HICGI News Agency has reached out to Bishop Niringiye on this agenda; Zac born 1954 is an Anglican bishop who served as the Assistant Bishop of Kampala from 2005 to 2012.
Niringiye was born in Bafumbira and educated at Makerere University, Wheaton College, Illinois and the University of Edinburgh. He has a been a regional director for the Church Mission Society, which promotes missionary work in Africa and very significant in the Black Monday Movement.
Former Ethics Minister Miria Matembe, on this movement says Uganda government does not have the political will to fight corruption as it seeks more to consolidate power. She adds that the country is experiencing massive forms of corruption like embezzlement, fraud through complexities in the budget among others.
Towards the end of last year, the group signaled attempts to revamp the Black Monday Movement
In the concluded 2nd National Prayers against COVID 19 at State House Entebbe on 9th May 2020 Pentecostal Clergy Bishop Joshua Lwere prays for a ‘pandemic greater than COVID-19’
‘Lord we pray that you will raise godly men who will be in-charge of this economy. Lord we ask that you help us to get over this pandemic greater than COVID19, and that is the pandemic of corruption that has hindered every progress that we have sought. May you visit us in a special way. Lord we feel so bad that our resources are being squandered every single day; even what we would have used to help ourselves, because of this pandemic (corruption), we can’t. It is only you who can help us.
It is only you who can raise incorruptible leaders among us. Help us appreciate that it is only through integrity and truth and honesty that we can build a nation. Help us to genuinely repent of this evil of corruption. Root it out from our communities. Root it out from our families and government: in public service. Help us Lord because we seem to be helpless to fight it. And our economy cannot prosper without defeating it. We need you more than we have ever needed you before. We need your help oh Lord our God.’
Following this skin scratching prayer, Uganda President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was deeply troubled at how much the church and religious leaders in general are concerned about the country sinking due to corruption HICGI News Agency has learnt. The President more passionate made public request covered live on television to men of God to start reconnaissance of a fresh team to work with him corrupt free at their endorsement adding that they don’t have to come from their churches.
Confidential Sources indicate that President Museveni has started receiving names for a new team being redirected for vetting by his security and intelligence royal cadres. These will join his right winged “daughter” Lt Col Edith Nakalema who he continues to applause since her appointment to head the State House Anti-Corruption Unit.
Museveni has high hope in Nakalema for continuing to execute the mandate bestowed to her to save the deteriorating image of Uganda internationally, being tainted by the vice with recent comments of Belgium National Ingrid Dilen (widow of Berry Bernhard Glaser a Germany National who recently died in Uganda’s maximum prison during trial) accuses the country of grave corruption in institutions.
State-House Anti-Corruption Unit in the Battle field.
HICGI News Agency has interviewed Lt Col Nakalema who has shared with us her achievements since she took on the Presidential Anti-corruption Unit.
Afande Nakalema says Uganda has in the recent past taken significant efforts in the fight against corruption as evidenced by the institutional and legal framework, Government policies and the commitment of the President towards zero tolerance to corruption. This is consistent with Point 7 of the NRM’s Ten Point Program that targeted the ‘Elimination of all forms of corruption in public life.’
Despite these efforts, Uganda continues to feature in global and regional reports as a country infested with corruption. The recently published Afro Barometer survey on corruption puts Uganda 5th in ranking among nations where citizens believe the government is doing badly in tackling corruption. More than two-thirds (69%) of Ugandans say the level of corruption in the country increased during the 12 months preceding the survey, including 51% who say it increased “a lot.” The Afro Barometer 2019 survey reports that 78% of people think that the government is doing a bad job of tackling corruption and this has increased up from 42% in 1999.
Upon this background, the President Gen. Yoweri Museveni, on 10th December 2018, acting in exercise of his executive powers under Article 99 (4) of the Constitution established the State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SH-ACU) as a channel for his direct participation in the fight against Corruption. The Unit was to receive on behalf of the President Citizen’s corruption complaints and coordinate with the constitutionally mandated agencies to have them speedily resolved. It was hoped that this would inject a new zest into the fight against corruption in ways that can invigorate the fight in existing institutions.
Nakalema says since its creation the Unit has in liaison with the Criminal Investigations Department of Uganda Police acting under Article 120 (3) (a) and other constitutionally mandated agencies carried out several Anti-Corruption investigations and caused the charging of several persons before the Courts of Law.
From inception to date, the Unit has so far conducted investigations on corruption related offences in the Central Government (Ministries, Departments and Agencies), Local Governments and the Private Sector. These investigations are so far worth 250Bn/=. 146 persons have been charged before Courts of Law out of whom 120 are public officers currently on interdiction and 26 are Private Companies/Individuals. Fourteen (14) of these persons have been convicted and the other cases are pending in court at various stages. A total of 1.73Bn/= was recovered; Shs. 1Bn/= being money recovered from Labour Export Companies that had taken money from desperate youth with the promise of jobs in the Middle east and failed to provide the jobs and Shs. 738m being money recovered from air supplies from Gaming and Lotteries Board and returned to the Treasury.
The 120 public officers include; Kisoro South MP – Hon. Sam Bitangaro who was charged jointly with William Tumwine – the Head of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development for a fraudulent acquisition of title and fraudulent sale of land.
Nakalema says they have apprehended several Accounting Officers/Permanent Secretaries/ CEOs from Institutions including Mrs. Christine Guwatudde Kintu – Permanent Secretary, Mr. Joel Wanjala – Accounting Officer, Mr. Martin Owor – Commissioner Disaster Management and Mr. Fred Lutimba – Asst. Commissioner Procurement, all from the Office of the Prime Minister.
Others include; Mr. Edgar Agaba – CEO Gaming and Lotteries Board and John Patrick Kazoora – John Patrick Kazoora – Manager Finance and Administration, Mr. Charles Lagu, the Executive of National Animal Genetic Resource Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC & DB), Mr. Patrick Nyakana Mabiho – Secretary Human Rights Commission, Assimwe Wifred Muganga, Rebecca Nassuna, Agirembabazi Willy and Tino Rebecca, all Principal Human Rights Officers and Wamala Tadeo – Accountant at the Commission.
Mr. Mujuni Lawrence – Secretary Equal Opportunities Commission, Olwor Sunday Nicholas – Under Secretary, Jemba Evans – Principal Compliance Officer, Kwihangana Manasseh – Senior Complaince Officer, Mugabe Moses – Senior Monitoring and Compliance Officer, Byangire Harriet – Senior Accountant at the Commission, Ms. Achimo Ruth – Secretary Soroti University, Odong James – Internal Auditor, Omoding Samuel Ag. University Secretary, Otim Gilbert – Ag. University Bursar and other staff of the University, Senior officials from the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (Wakiso and Mbarara MZOs) have not been spared.
From the Banking Institutions she notes; Mr. Stephen Mukweli, Managing Director-Post Bank, Directors and some members of senior management of the same bank aswell as Mr. David Malinga Akol, Director Currency BoU and some Branch Managers.
There also Local Government Accounting Officers including ; 07 Chief Administrative Officers, 05 Town Clerks, 01 Mayor and, a number of Senior officers from the several districts and municipalities including ;Tororo, Mbarara, Arua, Alebtong, Lira, Dokolo, Lyatonde and Amolatar.
Jinja Resident District Commissioner Sakwa Eric was also arrested and charged with manslaughter of one Isanga Charles who died after being allegedly tortured by gang led by Mr. Sakwa. He was jointly charged with Bazimbyewa Bumali and Mohammed Simba.
There also Police Officers not spared and these include; The Regional CID Officer Wamala Region – D/SP Wilber Osteen Wanyama, District Police Commander Kassanda – ASP Daniel Ogellan, District CID Officer Kassanda – D/ASP Peter Beitera and Officer-in-charge CID Records – D/Sgt Azale Wilson were arrested and charged together with city businessman Mr. Abid Alam with conspiracy to defeat justice arising from their interference in cases related to land disputes in Bukompe village, Kassanda District that led to the death, torture, gang rape and malicious damage of property of residents of Bukompe village.
Police Constable Wafula Stephen of Kisimbiri Police Post in Wakiso District was arrested and charged with the murder of one Serujje Vincent after he unlawfully shot him on 31st March 2020. The Officer-in-charge of the Post and Police Constable Kabosi Isaac are to appear before the Police Court in relation to the handling of the case and torture of the deceased respectively.
Another Police Constable – Mpande Francis and LC Official – Assimwe Junior were also arrested and charged with aggravated torture after they roughed up a pregnant woman while enforcing the Covid-19 lockdown measures.
Lt Col Nakalema told HICGI News Agency that there also Private Companies and Individuals facing her wrath and these include; Directors of MTK Ltd; Fiona Kitaka – CEO, Dr. Francis Kitaka Jr – Operations Manager and Alex Natukunda – Commercial Manager were charged with obtaining 1,095,353,800/= by False Pretence, Conspiracy to defraud and forgery.
City businessman Mr. Abid Alam was charged with conspiracy to defeat justice arising from his interference in cases related to land disputes in Kassanda District that led to death, torture, gang rape and malicious damage of property of residents of Bukompe village in Kasanda.
From Labour Externalisation Concerns; SH-ACU has so far received over 1000 complaints from desperate youths most of whom physically flocked to the Unit’s Offices. Mr. Benon Kunywana and Godfrey Kyalimpa both directors from Middle East Consultants one of the labour export companies were charged with attempted trafficking of 40 desperate youths to the Middle East and are currently before the International Crimes Division of the High Court for trial.
She says that Investigations into fraudulent activities of labour export companies are ongoing and the Unit has been able to cause a refund/recover close to Shs. 1Bn/= that had been fraudulently obtained from the desperate youths by labour export companies under the guise of “profitable employment abroad” which did not materialise. The Unit is working with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to recover the outstanding claims HICGI News Agency has learnt.
“Together with Police, the Unit also coordinated the return of 24 Ugandans that were being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in Oman, Jordan, Qatar, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia. In addition, we caused the repatriation of 06 dead bodies/remains of Ugandans who had died under unclear circumstances in Middle East Countries.” Adds Nanakalema.
COVID 19 Investigations
Following a directive from His Excellency, to the Unit to investigate cases related to Government’s Covid 19 response, the Unit has also investigated multiple cases; Fraudulent Procurement of Relief Food Supplies; following a directive from H.E to investigate allegations of inflation of prices for food supplies to distributed to the vulnerable as part of the Covid 19 response, the Unit in liaison with CID initiated investigations that led to the arrest and charging of several officials from OPM. The Unit’s intervention led to a reduction of the prices and saved Government Shs. 8.65Bn.
The Unit also intervened in the mismanagement of Movement Permits/Stickers and 10 persons namely; Sgt. Ariong Osikol Stephen, Sabir Ali, Ali Noshad, Behlum Usana, Abhina Sen, Mutaawe Eddy, Mayengo Moses, Kavuma Honest, Musoke Henry and Musinguzi Wycliffe have been charged before courts of law for unlawful possession of Government stores.
Five suspects have been charged with the offence of forgery, uttering false document and conspiracy to commit a felony. They pleaded not guilty and were remanded pending hearing. These included a 24 year old Mugarura Disan Dickson, the master-mind behind the forgery of the COVID-19 motor vehicle stickers. A search was conducted at his residence and work premise at Nasser Road. 04 laptop computers, 03 printers used in the forgery were seized and 167 forged COVID-19 motor vehicle stickers recovered.
Two people, an army officer Cpl. Kakuru E and a civilian – Mukasa Newton were arrested and charged with personation after they masqueraded as SHACU staff in attempt to illegally obtain relief supplies from the OPM stores.
Nakalema says that despite being a nascent and very small outfit with a humble budget, the Unit has been able to realise these successes on account of the rapid response approach it has applied to cases of public concern. This approach entails dispatch of teams urgently on fact finding and sting operations to retrieve evidence and expeditiously conducting investigations and presenting suspects in court.
The Unit has also married what she refers to as “this sting approach with ‘baraza’ or town hall meetings” with officials of entities where it has conducted investigations that are open to the public. At these meetings the citizens have openly challenged public officials where they have attempted to lie thereby providing vital investigative clues in real time.
She notes that the rapid response and the baraza meeting approach and their resultant successes have endeared the Unit to Public who see it as a much needed boost in the fight against Corruption. This confidence is reflected in the nearly 300 cases reported daily from across the country. Nakalema adds that trends show that areas where the Unit has had an operation increase the rate of case reporting.
The Unit’s approach has also had a deterrent effect. There is now an increased sense of fear to engage in corruption scandals among public officers. The history of impunity is eroding steadily and public officers now understand that the political will to fight corruption is matched with speedy enforcement action.
In spite of Nakalema’s achievements, analysts who have talked to HICGI News Agency are concerned of much more efforts needed to redeem Uganda’s tainted image. With a new force recruitment injected in government institutions however there’s hope that Museveni would shine.