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Gov’t engaging 16 NGOs over suspension

NGO Bureau Executive Director Stephen Okello. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Sixteen of the 54 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that were suspended in August are engaging government to have their suspension lifted.

Of the 54, 23 NGOs were suspended by the National Bureau for Non-Governmental Organisations for operating with expired permits, 15 failed to file annual returns and audited books of accounts while 16 were operating without registering with the bureau altogether.

The NGO Act requires all NGOs to register with the NGO Bureau, acquire and renew their permits annually to continue operations and also file their annual and audited books of account with the NGO Bureau. The Bureau is mandated to register, regulate, monitor, inspect, coordinate and oversee all NGO operations in the country.

Now, the Minister of Internal Affairs Gen Kahinda Otafire has said that of the suspended organisations, 16 are engaging the NGO forum.

Some of these NGOs are Chapter Four Uganda, Youth Line Forum, Arise Africa International, Femrite Uganda Women Writers’ Association, Centre for Justice studies and Innovation, Youth Equality Centre, Public Policy Institute, Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), and Self Worth Initiative. Others are Centre for Conflict Resolution, Rural Action Based Organisation among others.

Otafire and the team from the Ministry of Internal Affairs were interacting with members of the government Assurance Committee of Parliament. The officials were responding to the status of implementation of assurances made on the floor of Parliament.

According to Otafire, the engagements are already showing serious internal governance issues that must be addressed before these organisations are cleared to operate. Otafire says the suspension is not deregistration.

The Chairperson of the Committee Betty Nambooze however asked the Ministry if any due diligence was done before suspending the organisations. She tasked the officials to give details if earlier warnings were given and the NGOs refused to comply, but also challenged the NGO bureau on evidence that the organisations had committed such crimes.

Gen Otafire however said that it is not the duty of the regulator to warn them, adding that the NGOs know what they are supposed to. He says the committee needs evidence on the non-compliance of the NGOs.

Joseph Ssewungu, the Kalungu West MP questioned why the organisations are usually targeted during election periods.

Stephen Okello, the Executive Director of the National NGO Bureau said that once the organisations comply, the suspension will be lifted.



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