By Hasifah Namuli
It has been months since the indefinite suspension of several civil Society Organization’s on the orders of president Yoweri museveni in August this year by The National Bureau for NGOs under the Ministry of Internal Affairs yet the line ministry still remains tightlipped on the fate of these organizations.
According to Okello Stephen, the Executive Director of the NGO bureau they indefinitely suspended NGOs for consistently failing to file their annual returns and audited books of accounts.
Months down the road bureau is still silent and reluctant about opening up the organizations that were very vital in keeping government agencies in check in terms of transparency while helping empower the citizens to demand for accountability in terms of service deliver as well as advocating for people’s rights and providing them with improved livelihoods.
As the saying goes, injustice to one is injustice to all, city society organizations including those that are still operational insist that most of those that were indefinitely suspended had infact been issued with operating licences a clear indication that they had gone through the rightful processes and procedures. This therefore leaves one wondering what the real motive of the suspension was because evidently they were compliant by ensuring that they processed for the operating licences that wouldn’t have otherwise been issued to them if their operations were lacking of being non-compliant as the NGO bureau claims.
Now, these NGOs have been urged to join hands in fronting their constitutional mandate and reclaim their civic space. An African researcher with human rights watch Oryem Nyeko implores that rather than silencing the NGOs, government ought to be seeking avenues seeking to resolve resolve any compliance issues they may have so that they immediately return to serving Ugandans.
“Uganda’s constitution guarantees the right to freedom of association but these latest government actions oinly compound governments already troubling restrictions on civic space.” Said Nyeko.
He now advises that instead of harassing rights groups, government should fulfil its obligation of not just respecting their space but also provide an enabling environment for them to flourish.
Hasifah Namuli, the Head of News at Metro FM 90.8.