UGANDA GOVERNMENT ORDERS NGO’s TO DESIST FROM POLITICS

ACODE’s Executive Director Godber Tumushabe

  • Scrutiny. The Internal Affairs Ministry is preparing to conduct a “comprehensive audit” of over 41 NGOs deemed to be involved in “suspicious” or “subversive” activities.

KAMPALA. In what seems to be government’s latest move to clamp down on “errant” Non-Governmental Organisations, the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) has been ordered to cease with immediate effect involvement in, or affiliation to, all political activities in Uganda.

The internal affairs ministry is preparing to conduct a “comprehensive audit” of more than 41 NGOs deemed to be involved in “suspicious” or “subversive” activities.

The instructions to ACODE came from the Committee of the NGO Board.

NGOs operating under a “Human Rights” umbrella are said to be highly at risk. The number of NGOs targeted is likely to grow in the coming days.
Internal Affairs State Minister James Baba, on Thursday, said his ministry was “working within its mandate”.

“Why don’t you let us (Internal Affairs Ministry) do our job? The Internal Affairs Ministry is mandated to register, regulate and supervise NGOs and that is exactly what we are doing,” Mr Baba said.

Efforts to reach ACODE’s Executive Director Godber Tumushabe for comment were futile by press time. According to his office manager, Mr Tumushabe would not be available until next week.

The new developments follow a recent apology published by two NGOs; the Uganda Land Alliance and Oxfam Uganda over claims of land grabbing. The two NGOs were told by locals that 20,000 people were in September 2011 evicted from an area in Mubende and Kiboga to make way for a British forestry company.

On June 14, the NGO Board Acting Secretary, Mr Simon Nangiro, ordered Mr Tumushabe to ensure all ACODE staff with political interest do so outside the organisation.

Earlier, on June 1, ACODE was invited to meet the NGO Board Committee for “a discussion” regarding its “operations” as an NGO.

“The file of the organisation at the NGO Board was not updated and lacked a lot of information. The constitution presented to the Sub Committee during the meeting was different from the one on the file at the NGO Board,” Mr Nangiro wrote after the June 1 meeting.

“ACODE is carrying out research. All individuals or organisations intending to carry out any form of research in Uganda must get clearance from the National Council of Science and Technology. The board is concerned whether ACODE got such a clearance,” Mr Nangiro added.

ACODE has also been ordered to produce lists of its funders and its current board members, its budgets and work plans, financial reports showing how much funds ACODE has received and spent on its activities, a copy of the actual constitution ACODE is using, a letter indicating ACODE exact address (NGO Registration Certificate is different from those on ACODE’s headed papers) and a copy of the memorandum of understanding signed between ACODE and Ministry of Local Government and also with the local governments.

The requirements were to be submitted to the board within seven days that expired yesterday.

Mr Nangiro  confirmed ACODE had complied with his requirement.

“We are now looking at the documents they sent back and we will communicate to them appropriately,” he said.

He, however, declined to comment on why ACODE was being subjected to scrutiny or whether such scrutiny amounts to infringement of rights.

On March 16, the Bank of Uganda ordered all commercial banks, Credit Institutions and Micro-Finance Deposit taking institutions, to avail all financial details of ACODE, not later than March 21.

“ACODE are members of Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda and Civil Society Coalition on Oil, unregistered loose coalitions that are in involved in political activities. The loose coalitions are deliberately not registered with the NGO Board,” said Mr Nangiro.

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