The Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF) on Tuesday led a delegation of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) leaders into a meeting with the Minister of Internal Affairs, (Rtd) Maj. General Kahinda Otafiire.
This comes in the wake of the closure of 54 NGOs by the National NGO Board under the Ministry of Internal Affairs allegedly due to non-compliance.
The delegation was led by former high court justice Margaret Sekaggya, now the head of the Human Rights Centre Uganda, Robert Kirenga of National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, Xavier Ejoyi of ActionAid Uganda and Winfred Ngabiirwe -Global Rights Alert.
Among the issues discussed included the halting of operations of 54 CSOs by the NGO Bureau and the increasing negative narratives by some government officials against the CSO sector. Also discussed was the absence of a Board of Directors for the Regulatory body and the Adjudication Committee, among others.
In a statement released by UNNGOF on Tuesday, it was noted that the halting of operations of 54 NGOs, albeit a compliance-related matter, was done without sufficient prior notice and fair hearing for the affected organizations.
The Minister promised to look into the matter and seek an immediate amicable solution.
It was agreed that the NGO sector in Uganda plays a critical role in Uganda’s democratic and development process and that the naming and shaming of NGOs without fair hearing defeats the partnership principle between the CSO sector and the government of Uganda and affects the credibility of the sector as a whole.
They further agreed that the Uganda National NGO Forum will write a formal appeal to the Minister, who, in the absence of a duly constituted Board of Directors and the Adjudication Committee, will consider the appeal and provide guidance to the Bureau about the 54 affected CSOs.
“The Minister will expedite the appointment of the Board of Directors and members of the Adjudication Committee to support the Bureau in playing its enabling and regulatory function,” they noted.
However, Otafiire expressed his commitment to the resumption of the quarterly interactions between the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the NGO Bureau and the CSO sector as an important platform for mutual reflection and learning.
They also agreed that the District NGO Monitoring Committees and Sub-County NGO Monitoring Committees be instituted to ensure that Government Officials at the District levels can fully appreciate the roles of the CSOs.
CSOs have been urged to comply with the laws governing the sector.