Government orders board to tighten grip on NGOs

By Paul Tajuba & Ulysse Osmont

Kampala- The Internal Affairs minister, Gen Jeje Odongo, has tasked the National Bureau For NGOs to tighten accountability oversight of all non-governmental organisations and ensure that funds received “reach intended beneficiaries”.

Gen Odongo, who spoke yesterday at the induction of NGO board members in Kampala, said: “A brief financial analysis of about 50 foreign NGOs in Uganda done by the ministry revealed shocking results.”

“We found out that in a period of four years, they had brought in close to $8b, (about Shs29.7 trillion),” Gen Odongo said.

Four years ago, Gen Odongo said, Uganda had an estimated 13,000 NGOs, a number he expects to have increased.

“The questions we asked: ‘What has that money done? Do we see it on the ground?’ That calls for keen accountability,” he added without naming the NGOs that the ministry probed.

Restrictive law
The National Bureau For NGOs oversees the operations of NGOs and was born out of the 2016 Non-governmental Organisations Act. Some civil social players regard the law restrictive as it requires NGOs to declare their source of funding and work plans to be approved by the Board.

Mr Richard Ssewakiryanga, the executive director of Uganda National NGO Forum, separately told this paper that a few government employees understand how NGOs work and that it is the reason why there is mistrust.

“It is easy to say such things of what is twinkling and what is not twinkling. But for NGOs, what they decide to do on ground is also visible, known and they can account for it,” Mr Ssewakiryanga said.

“Yes, we bring in a lot of money, but there are hundreds of problems in this country and we can only target a few. The development of this country is in the hands of government and not NGOs,” he added.

Mr Ssewakiryanga said although government does not want to recognise their work, millions of Ugandans have benefited especially in areas of HIV/Aids.

Mr Charles Oleny Ojok, the National Bureau For NGOs chairperson, said they will soon roll out a census to ascertain the number of Ngos. He vowed to crack the whip on non-compliant NGOs.
“The idea of the law is not only to have accountability principles known by NGOs or just be in books of NGOs but the law enforces practices of these issues,” Mr Ojok said.

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