A coalition of some 60 non-government organisations set up to monitor elections has been banned from operating.
The National Bureau for Non Governmental Organizations (NGO Bureau), a government entity under the Ministry of Internal Affairs said all activities of the National Elections Watch – Uganda (NEW-U) are henceforth banned because it is not a legally constituted body.
While addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre (UMC) this week, Patrick Ezaga, the NGO Bureau Spokesperson said that during their routine inspection of all activities of NGOs, they discovered that NEW-U was undertaking different activities but illegally.
Patrick Ezaga said they learned about NEW-U through the press when the organisation was launched on September 10, 2020 and their earlier press conferences on September 5 and 6, 2020.
Ezaga said the NGO board Investigates and found that NEW-U had its secretariat at the Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF).
“It was established however, that NEW-U is not registered. The NGO Bureau then proceeded to stablish its status with Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) and found that NEW-U was not incorporated,” said Ezaga.
He added that The NGO Bureau then invited the NGO Forum together with representatives of the NEW-U for a meeting which was held on Thursday, October 22, 2020 with the purpose of ascertaining the legal status of NEW-U in Uganda.
“NEW-U is a loose coalition established by 60 organizations which proceeded to commence its operations without incorporation, registration and permission to operate within the laws of Uganda.
It therefore lacks the legal authority to transit any activities in its own capacity since it would not be held liable for its actions,” Ezaga said.
He further noted that whereas UNNGOF and some of the organizations which are valid were accredited by the Electoral Commission in their own right to be Election observers in the forthcoming national polls, there was no such accreditation for NEW-U.
The Bureau’s mouth piece also noted that after the meeting, the NGO bureau also proceeded to verify the status of the organizations subscribing to NEW-U and it found out that;
There are actually 65 subscribing organizations rather than the 60 reported by UNNGOF and of these, only 42 are duly registered with the NGO Bureau, possess valid permits of operation, were updated and therefore appear in the updated National NGO register (UNNR), 6 organizations are registered, have valid permits of operation but are not updated by UNNR and 11 are not registered with the NGO bureau.
He further cautioned NGOs that are not registered by the bureau and continue to operate without legalizing their status under the relevant law of Uganda to act accordingly or else they risk closure.
“Further action shall be taken on the NGOs that were found to have participated in such on otherwise illegal arrangement. This also applies to those that have had previously formed such loose coalitions and have not yet legalized their status to date,” Ezaga warned.
The threat to close NEW-U without the requisite legal documents has been hailed by some people.
Lawyer Kiwanuka Abdallah, of Kiwanuka, Kanyango & co. Advocates has support the NGO Burea saying I’d any entity does not follow thraws of a given xountry, it cannot be allowed to exist.
“The NGO Bureau is constitutionally a recognized body under the NGO Act 2016 and if in any way, it found out that NEW-U did not meet the requirements for it to operate, then it’s entitled to halt NEW-U’s programs and operations. Laws must be followed for a country to develop” he noted.