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My country is one of those that is ranked highly on the corruption index in the world, yet the populace continues to wallow in extreme poverty, coupled with high maternal rates and high infant rates. So in the last decade, non-governmental organizations have been engaged in efforts to fight this vice through innovative ways.
In early January 2011, we woke up to newspaper headlines that the Parliament had been recalled from recess to pass a whopping sum of money as a supplementary budget. In that same supplementary budget, members of Parliament were given individually Ushs 20million which is about US$ 10,000 to purportedly monitor government programmes. What raised the red flag was that MPs were given that money in the middle of election campaigns, three months before the end of their term and the money was deposited on their personal accounts and taxed.
As civil society organizations, we felt that we could not let such a detestable act to pass. We immediately formed a coalition of several Non-Governmental organizations to do something and we code-named the campaign “respect your honor and return our money campaign.” This campaign was multifaceted in that we developed and implemented several strategies to pile pressure on the government and members of parliament to reverse this action. This included a media campaign calling upon members of parliament and government to return the money to the treasury, publishing and disseminating information leaflets calling upon the public to demand that their leaders return the money, and instituted a court case in the constitutional court to request that government not abuse the public trust.
The campaign ruffled many members of parliament and government officials, such that the police sporadically began to arrest the staff of non-governmental organizations that were distributing the leaflets. Personally I was running from one end of town to another to try and bail out my colleagues from prison cells. We also had to call upon friends in high places in government to request that the arrests be stopped.
While a few members of parliament refunded the monies to the parliamentary commission, as civil society organizations we are glad that the campaign raised public understanding and placed corruption high on the election agenda. We, as civil society organizations, do hope that this is the beginning of times when are not afraid to stand up and fight this vice.


Beverly Rose's picture

Wow! Talk about arrogance on

Wow! Talk about arrogance on the part of these officials! And what courage you and your colleagues had to stand up to this overt corruption. It's amazing what can be accomplished when people are willing to stand up.

Thank you for sharing this story. I know it will help others to be empowered to stand up also.

Be safe and at peace.

cbenkov's picture

That's great to see the

That's great to see the successes of your organizing and campaign. I am inspired!

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