A retired Ugandan bishop was arrested this week, accused of disturbing the peace and unlawful assembly for handing out pamphlets denouncing government corruption.
On 4 Feb 2013, Dr. Zac Niringiye, the former Assistant Bishop of Kampala, and seven other democracy activists were arrested by police at Makere University as they handed out leaflets documenting that called for action to combat corruption. After bail was posted the bishop was released from custody but ordered to return for a hearing before a magistrate on 14 Feb.
After former Archbishop Henry Orombi announced he was stepping down, Dr. Niringiye told the 8 Jan 2012 meeting of the House of Bishops that he was leaving office years early “to advocate for "peace, justice and better leadership in this country."
Dr. Niringiye has been a vocal advocate for government reform and has denounced corruption and misrule. The Church of Uganda has traditionally avoided direct lobbying of the government, seeking instead to influence the government by expounding the practical lessons of the Bible. At a 12 Nov 2009 funeral oration for Major General James Kazini, Bishop Niringiye warned the government that it must address its failings and internal rivalries.
“I do not have to be a prophet of doom to predict NRM’s collapse if you don’t deal with these weaknesses,” the bishop said, adding it was too late for the dead general to mend his ways, but “you Generals, if you do not respond to this wake-up call, you are doomed.”
In an Oct 2010 symposium on leadership held in Kampala, Dr. Niringiye told Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi the government had become overgrown with corruption, which was now "a mass forest in Uganda, especially in the [ruling] NRM [party].”
Dr. Niringiye was educated at Makare University and earned a Master’s Degree in Theology from Wheaton College and a Doctorate in Theology from Edinburgh University. He has served as regional director of the Church Missionary Society, regional secretary for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, and as general secretary of Fellowship of Christian Unions (FOCUS) Uganda.
Ordained deacon in the Diocese of Muhabura in 1995 and priest in 1996, he served at All Saints Cathedral in Kampala as chaplain to the Muhabura community in the city, and was named assistant bishop in 2005.