Non-Governmental Organisations will in the future face strict monitoring by government if a new Bill to make them autonomous is passed.
The Non-Governmental Organisation Board is in the process of drafting a new Bill which according to Hillary Onek, the Minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness, will be used to check the 11,000 NGOs in the country.
Onek says most of them carrying out advocacy work are getting involved in the local politics yet in their home countries it would not be accepted. The former internal affairs minister cites the Walk to Work protests that are burdening the police budget saying they receive foreign funding.
The draft Bill also proposes charging foreign NGOs between 1000 to 2000 US Dollars while the local ones will pay one million shillings annually. This will enable the NGO Board generate seven million dollars.
General Aronda Nyakairima, the new Internal Affairs Minister, warned the NGO Board not to register any NGO that claims to work for street kids and yet they are found teaching about governance.
However, Arthur Larok, the Country Director ActionAid and member of the NGO-Forum Uganda, says the problem they have been facing is government’s failure to misunderstand the work of NGOs. He adds that all government wants is to control them just as it has done with the media and Parliament among other institutions.
However, the struggle for democracy will continue irrespective of whether the minister of internal affairs is from the military.
Regarding the new Bill, Larok states that they are already working under a draconian law of the NGO Act 1989 amended in 2006, of which they are seeking a revision. He notes that the NGOs are not expecting any miracle of positive change to come with the new law.
He adds that NGOs are not just supposed to give out seeds and blankets for government to appreciate their work but will fight on to see Ugandans living in greater dignity.
In 2011 at the height of the walk to work protests, the NGO Board started operationalising the 2006 NGO Act by asking organisations to re-apply for permits before they could be allowed to operate in Uganda.