KAMPALA – Civil Society Organisations – CSOs have announced a self-regulation campaign in order to move on smoothly with the government, with whom they have always clashed.
It should be recalled that in 2021, the government revoked the licenses for 54 NGOs including the main civil liberties organization Chapter Four.
Accordingly, the organizations which operate in the political, societal, religious and environmental fields, were accused of “non-compliance” with the law, the NGO Bureau, which is part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs said.
Now, in a bid to end such clashes, the NGOs have on Wednesday launched “Be Legit” campaign in which they intend to emphasize the different legal requirements and documents, assessing evidence of the NGOs meeting the legal obligations.
Sarah Pacutho, the team leader in charge of civil society strengthening at the UNNGOF noted that their relationship with the government doesn’t have to be confrontational.
“We don’t have to fight all the time and one the things we can do to avoid this is self-regulate and be compliant. We don’t want to have situations like last year (when 54 NGOs were closed) but need to put our fights down.”
“We ask that you (NGOs) t/be legitimate and it is the least you can do as stakeholders. Do self-regulation and compliance. There is no other way to prove you are legitimate apart from being compliant,” she added.
She is optimistic that with the campaign, they will ensure compliance to the regulatory framework by NGOs but also identify compliance training needs to inform capacity building.
“This is not a fault-finding exercise but rather one that seeks to foster learning self-regulation, compliance and learning. Some of the documents to be reviewed during the campaign will include a Certificate of Incorporation (URSB), Certificate of Registration (NGO Bureau, URA, NSSF, and Financial Intelligence Authority); permit from NGO Bureau; Articles of Association/Constitution and proof of filing returns to URSB, NGO Bureau, district, NSSF, Financial Intelligence Authority and URA among others.
She says as NGOs, they will emphasis to put on self-regulation to ensure the smooth running of their activities for the benefit of the Ugandan population.
“We want to find compliance gaps and see ways of addressing them. Enough is enough of the fighting (with the government). Let us put our guns down and stop lamentations of being under attack. Compliance will help solve all these issues,” Pacutho noted.
The Executive Director of the NGO Bureau, Stephen Okello welcomed the move for NGOs to adopt self-regulation and compliance mechanisms that he said will ensure a smooth relationship with the government.
“This is greatly going to help NGOs operate smoothly. As NGO Bureau, our main concern is promoting good governance, transparency and accountability within NGO sector and once we have a very healthy NGO sector everything will move smoothly,” Okello said.
“We appreciate your role in filling in the gap that you have identified by coming in to complement government efforts. However, there are legal obligations you must comply with and it is very important that as you carry out your work, you ensure those obligations are followed, otherwise you are going to get problems,” he noted.
“Don’t wait for the government to warn or put sanctions on you. It is important that you are fully compliant in everything you do.”
Dr. Moses Isooba, the Executive Director for UNNGOF said that there is a need for self-compliance by NGOs to ensure they remain in business.
“It is important to be legitimate by adhering to the administrative and legislative requirements of the state. It is non-negotiable even when you don’t like government. It is important that even before waiting for government, you comply.”