The suspension of the Democratic Governance Facility-DGF will throw more than 10,000 Ugandans out of employment, and affect all efforts to improve governance, promote human rights, fight corruption, and enhance accountability in Uganda.
The concern by Civil Society Organizations comes days after President Yoweri Museveni ordered the suspension of DGF, the single biggest donor basket established by Development Partners to provide harmonized, coherent and well-coordinated support to state and non-state entities in the country.
According to President Museveni, the Ministry of Finance irregularly and unilaterally authorized DGF funding, to a tune 500 billion Shillings, to be operated exclusively by foreign missions in Uganda. He says that the approval of DGF operations, without government oversight, tantamount to surrendering the sovereignty of the people of Uganda to foreign interests.
But Margaret Ssekajja, the Director of the Human Rights Centre says that the value of DGF funding cannot be overstated. She says that the funding pool has been very instrumental in augmenting the work of both state and non-state actors in Uganda, employing thousands of people, pacifying the country and building institutions.
Sekajja explains that DGF, which started as the Deepening Democracy Program has been at the core of the establishment of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, training of Police, Army and prisons personnel. Several Government institutions like Parliament, the Judiciary and a number of Local Governments are supported with funding from DGF complementing government support.
Ssekajja says that although the fund started with state actors, it recently incorporated Civil Society Organizations many of which are giving a great deal of service to communities across the country, and adds that the President needs to be furnished with the right information about the operation of DGF as well as its partners.
Sekajja downplays as baseless, the president’s accusations of subversion, and shares that before any funding is released, DGF scrutinizes and follows up the benefiting organizations, which also have to get a permit from the NGO Bureau, adding that DGF is a victim of Democratic reversal now experienced in Uganda.
Godber Tumushabe, of the Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies says that the halting of the funds by Government is diversionary from the excesses of the just concluded elections.
Moses Isooba, the Executive Director of the Uganda National NGO Forum says that the government has been represented on the board of the Democratic Governance Facility and that that contrary to the Presidents’ statements, there was adequate supervision of the fund and its operations.
Henry Muguzi of the Alliance for Campaign Finance Monitoring says that it is sad that Uganda cannot fund institutions, and uses its resources mostly for servicing debts, turns around to fight development partners.
Xavier Ejoyi, the Executive Director of Action Aid says that it is strange that with all the Aid Management Unit that handles issues to do with donors, it is surprising to say that the funding is not known by an institution of the government.
Mercy Munduru, a program manager at Action Aid says the government should actually do a thorough investigation and release a report on the alleged subversive activities.
The CSO’s were addressing a press conference at the Royal Suites in Bugolobi, today.