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Citizens to send the corrupt to prison – new Black Monday Movement strategy

By Joan Akello

Unlike last year, where there was a scandal in the Office of the prime Minister that caused public spat, in a rather quiet event, Civil society celebrated the first anniversary of the Black Monday Movement,(BMM) on Dec 2.

However, after months of distributing newsletters, creating online videos to fight corruption, the activists have rolled out a three year caravan to traverse the country to get citizens’ views on  who are the most corrupt and thereafter send them to a symbolic citizens’ prison because the government and judiciary have failed to net the thieves.

The caravan is already traversing Northern Uganda before heading for Karamoja next year. The three year caravan will finally go to the West in 2015 to sensitise people at the grassroots level.

However, Miria Matembe, former minister of ethics and integrity told conveners she had nothing new to say about corruption but says it is up to the people in the villages to stand up and say enough is enough.

In a poetic presentation, Prof. PLO Lumumba the former directorof Kenya Anti corruption (September 2010 to August 2011) said that he just like other heads of such government anti corruption agencies in Africa was victimized for his bravery to fight the vice.

“The mortality rate in office (anti corruption agencies) is very short. It appears that in Africa if you finish your term you have failed to fight corruption, Lumumba said, “In Africa we hang the small thieves and elect the great ones to public office.”

With 600 participants to mark BMM’s first anniversary at the third annual corruption convention, the activists say BMM will recognize   people who manage public offices with integrity. Secondly, they also want to make corruption politically risky and integrity attractive for Ugandans to embrace.

BMM’s the activists fault the government and judiciary over failure to net the thieves but hope their new strategy to identify the corrupt and thereafter send them to a symbolic citizens’ prison will make the vice unattractive.

Bishop Zac Niringiye,one of the founders of BMM said, “The government is afraid of people’s movement in the fight against graft. To me this good; government should fear the citizen power”

He however expressed his disappointment with some civil society organizations that have not joined the movement and that the campaign has not yet resulted in ensuring the corrupt return the stolen funds.

“…This campaign has not yet mobilized such a critical mass of citizens who make corruption such a risky venture.  We still have citizenry that believes and supports government in ‘tribalising’ corruption. For every time someone in government is held for graft, you find tribe mates going to   beg the president to forgive their son or daughter.

However Prof. Lumumba says it is a continental problem where Africans “are in the business of canonizing thieves and demonizing saints.”

BMM was launched at the height of the pension scam and misappropriation of funds in the office of the prime minster.  This year, the prime minister joined Inspector General of Government, Irene Mulyagonja  in the  anti-corruption match around the city to launch the anti corruption week and also part of the week-long activities meant to mark 25 years of existence for the IGG’s office. Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi was chief walker in the city match the Ombudsman organized against corruption.

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