KAMPALA – The National Bureau for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO Bureau) has asked beneficiaries under the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) to remain silent amidst the ongoing discussions on the government’s suspension of the facility.
The Bureau, a semi-autonomous body under the Ministry of Internal Affairs is mandated to register, regulate, coordinate, inspect, monitor and oversee all NGO operations in the country.
Speaking at a press conference at the government-owned Uganda Media Center on Tuesday, Patrick Onen Ezaga, the spokesperson of the Bureau said NGOs and Civil society organisations supported by DGF should desist from making careless statements amidst ongoing discussions within the government on the Shillings 500 Billion DGF support to both State and non-state actors.
President Yoweri Museveni ordered the suspension of DGF, the single biggest donor basket established by Development Partners to provide harmonized, coherent and well-coordinated support to state and non-state entities in the country.
According to Museveni, Ministry of Finance irregularly and unilaterally authorized DGF funding to a tune of Shillings 500 billion to be operated exclusively by foreign missions in Uganda. He says that the approval of DGF operations without government oversight, tantamount to surrendering the sovereignty of the people of Uganda to foreign interests.
Now, Ezaga says that some NGOs and CSOs made statements accusing government of all sorts of things including electoral fraud, torture and killings in a press conference held last week. According to Ezaga, NGOs and CSOs should leave the government to complete its ongoing investigations into the operation of the facility. He says that it is unfortunate that the affected organizations act as if they are independent of the nations.
Ezaga says that the DGF support is not in doubt and has added value to national development, but this does not mean that questions should not be asked.
DGF supported NGO Bureau with up to Shillings 1.2 Billion shillings to facilitate their operations. Asked if he was aware that Finance Minister Matia Kasaija wrote a letter to the President clarifying on the status of DGF operations, Ezaga said he was only responding to the NGOs and the statements they issued.
He says the NGO Bureau itself receives money from DGF and it is important for the actors to go slow. Ezaga was quick to allay fears that they are trying to gag civil societies and NGOs, and says this is only to ensure that the country is in check. He asked the affected NGOs to instead write to government detailing how the funding has benefitted them.
Asked to comment on the matter, Civil Society Organisations who had a press conference last week said that they have the right to speak on what affects them and the economy. Xavier Ejoyi, Director Action Aid said there is nothing wrong by saying that the President acted on wrong information. He asked the NGO Bureau to also write a report probably on behalf of the NGOs since it supervises their operations.