Sixteen of the 54 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that were suspended in August are engaging Government to have their suspension lifted.
Of the 54, 23 NGOs were
suspended by the National Bureau for Non-Governmental Organisations for
operating with expired permits, 15 failed to file annual returns and audited
books of accounts while 16 were operating without registering with the bureau altogether.
The NGO Act requires all NGOs to register with the NGO Bureau, acquire and
renew their permits annually to continue operations and also file their annual
and audited books of account with the NGO Bureau. The Bureau is mandated to
register, regulate, monitor, inspect, coordinate and oversee all NGO operations
in the country.
Now the Minister of Internal Affairs Gen Kahinda Otafire has
said that of the suspended organisations, 16 are engaging the NGO forum.
Some of these NGOs are
Chapter Four Uganda, Youth Line Forum, Arise Africa International, Femrite
Uganda Women Writers' Association, Centre for Justice studies and Innovation,
Youth Equality Centre, Public Policy Institute, Citizens' Coalition for
Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), and Self Worth Initiative. Others are
Centre for Conflict Resolution, Rural Action Based Organisation, among others.
Otafire and the team from the Ministry of Internal Affairs
were today interacting with members of the Government Assurance Committee of
Parliament. The officials were responding to the status of implementation of
assurances made on the floor of Parliament.
According to Otafire, the engagements are already showing
serious internal governance issues that must be addressed before these
organisations are cleared to operate. Otafire says the suspension is not deregistration.
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The Chairperson of the Committee Betty Nambooze however asked the Ministry if any due diligence was done before suspending the
organisations. She tasked the officials to give details if earlier warnings
were given and the NGOs refused to comply, but also challenged the NGOs bureau
on evidence that the organisations had committed such crimes.
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Gen Otafire however said that it is not the duty of the
regulator to warn them, adding that the NGOs know what they are supposed to. He
says the committee needs evidence on the non-compliance of the NGOs.
Joseph Ssewungu, the Kalungu West MP questioned why the
organisations are usually targeted during election periods.
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Stephen Okello the Executive Director of the National NGO Bureau
said that once the organisations comply, the suspension will be lifted.