A Zambian priest has challenged Christians across Africa to stand up and fight corrupt practices that are “soiling the fabric” of many countries on the continent.
The Revd John Kafwanka, currently Director of Mission at the Anglican Communion Office, was speaking following the recent arrest of Ugandan anti-corruption activist and retired Assistant Bishop of Kampala Diocese the Rt Revd Zac Niringiye.
Niringiye and eight other campaigners were arrested on Monday by the police at Uganda’s Makerere University for distributing pamphlets calling for an end to high-level corruption. The group was later released on bond.
The police who arrested Bp Nirigiye 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.
Mr Kafwanka said that speaking out against such wrongdoing was something all Christians everwhere should consider their responsibility: “We need more Christians to stand for what Bishop Zac stands for, to speak against wrongdoing, which always impact the poor most of all. Where corruption is found, God’s people should stand up and speak up from a position of integrity.”
Mr Kafwanka and Bp Niringiye once worked together at the Anglican mission agency CMS (Church Mission Society). Mr Kafwanka recalled the retired bishop’s character and personality: “He has always had a high belief that leaders both in church and in government should have integrity. He loves to see proper leadership in the continent of Africa.”
Mr Kafwanka also acknowledged that the Bp Niringiye had a “forthright nature” saying “He is quite critical of issues that may affect proper leadership such as corruption.”
The retired bishop has been a long and strong critic of corrupt practices within the country and has been at the forefront of advocating for transparency and accountability. He returns to answer the charges on 14 February, the others on 11 Feb.
The arrests cause consternation particularly among civil society organisations and have caused some commentators in Uganda to question the government’s attitude towards church leaders.
Mr Kafwanka said: “The corruption activities that the bishop has been advocating against are the same issues that every progressive leader should be fighting against.”