Renowned Human rights and HIV/AIDS Activist Aloysius Matovu Junior (Pictured right) has decried government’s continued suspension of Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) operations in Uganda saying it’s frustrating the HIV/AIDS fight in the East African country.
In February this year, President Yoweri Museveni suspended DGF, a multi-million-dollar fund backed by European Union nations that supports the work of civil society groups.
In a letter to Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, Museveni said that money withdrawn from DGF had been “used to finance activities and organizations designed to subvert government under the guise of improving governance.”
However, the organization’s suspension has crippled activities of several local non-government organizations, (NGOs), the majority of which are engaged in promoting accountability, good governance, human rights, democracy, service delivery monitoring and capacity building.
Among the affected projects were those of HIV/AIDS advocacy.
Matovu says DGF was very paramount in the fight against the virus in Uganda and closing it has been a setback for the local NGOs that respond to the needs of the people both infected and affected by the pandemic.
“As we commemorate World AIDS Day on December 1, I would like to call upon the government of Uganda to lift the suspension of DGF. The organization was so crucial in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country through funding different NGOs that advocate for human rights and ethical response to Health of people living with the virus,” Matovu says.
“Government should rethink its decision. By closing DGF, government frustrated the efforts of donors in supporting the vulnerable Ugandans in fighting HIV. On top of that many livelihoods especially in the period of Covid-19 pandemic were also affected since a lot of Ugandans were depending on that donor basket.”
Some of the local organizations whose HIV/AIDS advocacy works were frustrated by DGF closure include; Alliance of Mayors and Municipal Leaders’ Initiative for Community Action on AIDS at the Local Level (AMICAALL) and National Forum of People Living with HIV/AIDS Networks in Uganda (NAFOPHANU).
Matovu states that the suspension of DGF led to limited activities of NGOs that were benefitting from the facility and in turn this has led to an increase in teenage pregnancies and HIV infections since the organizations now lack resources to sensitize people in different parts of the country.
“We are already in an AIDS pandemic that has brought devastating human costs and without resources to sensitize people and catalyze our efforts in the fight against the virus, I think we are losing the battle. Government should do the needful by lifting DGF suspension. We need those donations if we are to win the war against HIV.”
Matovu says as activists they want to bring pressure to bear on government, says he is working with like-minded persons to draw up a petition to the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah to with the view to bring to for the lifting of DGF suspension.
On the other hand, the activist says next year he will be setting off to Canada to attend the International AIDS Conference where he will showcase his new act on how poverty stricken African countries can fight and survive HIV/AIDS.
“In 2006 I was in Toronto Canada for the same conference. I presented a solo act that was known as ‘In the thick of it’. The story was about how we can join efforts to fight the virus. This time round I will be in Montreal and I expect to act with several people especially the youth.”
Before the Montreal trip, Matovu and colleagues will first exhibit their stage play in different schools and communities in and around Kampala.
“Before embracing the international stage in Canada, we shall first showcase the play in different schools and communities here. Of course the project needs funds so very soon I will be mobilizing for support.”
Born the 42nd in a family of 52 children, Matovu has witnessed the HIV/AIDS plague claim 35 siblings, beside his parents.
“Being a victim, I feel compelled to tell my story and join efforts in fighting the disease,” Matovu says.
He is also a younger brother to renowned anti AIDS crusader Aloysius Matovu Joy, one of the founder partners of Bakayimbira Dramactors. Aloysius Matovu Joy is also a renowned HIV positive whose message of perseverance, positive living have earned him major recognition in the war against the disease.