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Anti-graft activist goes into hiding

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by ByaseL, Dec 24, 2009.

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    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Dec 24, 2009
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
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    It is not easy being an anti-corruption activist in Uganda, especially one with guts to name and shame big government officials. For two weeks now, Jasper Tumuhimbise, the Executive Director of the Anti-Corruption Coalition of Uganda (ACCU), has not been in his office.
    His mobile phone is switched off and his workmates cannot disclose his whereabouts for “safety” reasons. Two weeks ago, Tumuhimbise’s ACCU released a no-holds-barred publication shaming public officials perceived by respondents to be corrupt. The booklet also recognised those who had contributed greatly to the fight against corruption.

    The Observer has learnt that Tumuhimbise and other ACCU employees have been getting threatening phone calls from anonymous people who are not amused by the ‘Book of Fame and Shame.’
    “Someone calls you and asks, who do you think you are?” one of the employees who preferred to remain anonymous said.

    According to the book, which was based on public perceptions of 1,772 randomly selected respondents, Amama Mbabazi, the Security Minister, was perceived to be the most corrupt public official of 2009. This was based on the controversial sale of his Temangalo land to NSSF last year, which led to a Parliamentary inquest. The booklet also faulted President Museveni for not doing enough to fight graft within his government, but applauded him at the same time for taking a tough stance against the corrupt lately.

    Three days after the book was released, Mbabazi said on Capital FM’s talk-show Capital Gang that he would seek legal redress. He referred to the people behind the book as “idiots” and labeled their work “nonsense.”

    Since then, at the organisation’s offices along Tufnell Drive, Kamwokya, the fear is palpable. When The Observer visited last week, employees were scared to discuss the matter. Sources told us that two security agents visited recently, seeking information on the organisation’s donors.

    Meanwhile, we understand that Tumuhimbise, who used to work with the Inspector General of Government, might not renew his contract, which expires at the end of this year. At the height of the Temangalo saga, the ACCU sued NSSF in the Anti-Corruption division of the High Court, for entering a transaction where contributors of the Fund could have lost their money.

    “This should serve as a strong signal that any institution or individual who steals public money can be taken to court. Even more so, this should also be a wake-up call for this government to question the politicians in its own midst who steal public money. If NSSF is convicted, we expect action from this government and a process whereby it starts cleaning up among its own ministers,” Tumuhimbise said then.