KAMPALA – Veteran journalist Joseph Kabuleta Kiiza has on September 26 dragged the Minister of Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo to court challenging the National Religious and Faith-Based Organizations (RFBOs) policy 2019.
In his lawsuit filed before the High Court Civil Division, Kabuleta claims that RFBOs is an infringement of the fundamental freedom of worship of Ugandans.
In the new policy, it requires all clerics including pastors to acquire minimum academic qualifications in theology from a recognized institution, seek to enforce transparency and financial accountability in religious and faith-based institution and an elaborate procedure for anybody who wishes to start a church including declaring his or her source of income whether locally or internationally.
The minister was sued alongside the Attorney General and Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye, the Director of religious affairs at the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity.
Kabuleta has asked the court to declare the RFBO policy promulgated through the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity and promoted by Minister Lokodo and Rev. Canon Mwesigwa unconstitutional and unenforceable in Uganda because it imposes a state religion on Ugandans contrary to Art. 7 of the Constitution which says that Uganda has no state religion.
Through his lawyers of Namara Twenda and Co Advocates, Kabuleta contends that the policy infringes on the right of any Ugandan to practice a religion of his or her choice, manifest its practices and to join a religious body of his choice.
Kabuleta wants Court to declare the said policy unconstitutional, and to stop the Government of Uganda and all its institutions from enforcing and implementing it and to stop Minister Lokodo and the Director of Religious Affairs Rev. Can. Mwesigye from promoting and enforcing it.
Evidence before Court shows that on 1 February 2019 the Member of Parliament of Manjiya County John Baptist Nambeshe withdrew the controversial bill from the floor of the August House after it was opposed by his fellow MPs as being an infringement on freedom of worship.
However, Kabuleta contends that government through the directorate of the Ethics and Integrity and the office of the president repackaged this bill into a government policy which will be soon enforced across the country to regulate the activities of religious and faith-based organizations in the country.