10 June 2008

Uganda: Nsibambi Warns Defiant NGOs

Kampala — CHARITIES, which do not declare their activities to the Government, will be disciplined, Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi said yesterday.

"When I met the NGOs in Gulu in September, I asked them to give us this information but many of them have declined," he noted.

"Unless you inform us of your activities and where they are taking place, you will face disciplinary action, which I will not disclose here. Those that are not complying may be exploiting our people."

The premier was opening the national stakeholders' conference on the draft NGO policy at Hotel Africana in Kampala. He lauded the charities extending humanitarian assistance to the internally displace people and refugees, citing Noah's Arch, Samaritan Purse, Feed the Children, the Adventist Relief Agency and World Vision.

The charities are regulated by the internal affairs ministry.

"Familiarise yourselves with the new policy so that your activities and resources are not duplicated," the premier implored the charities.

He said he had directed the internal affairs minister to present the new policy to the Cabinet before June 30 "so that it is operationalised as soon as possible".

Internal affairs state minister Matiya Kasaija said the NGO board had deregistered some dubious organisations but they had gone ahead and registered as limited liability companies. He cited the defunct Caring for Orphans, Widows and the Elderly (COWE).

The organisation was forced to close down after people, mainly from western Uganda, complained that it had defrauded them of millions of shillings.

"A few NGOs have tarnished the image of the fraternity. I receive messages that COWE is still defrauding people," said Kasaija.

"We have already arrested their top leadership and are following the others. We shall bring them to book."

The minister observed that most churches were registered as trustees but often engaged in social welfare activities.

There was need to separate the two so as not to be captured by the NGO law, he suggested.

The NGO board chief, Joyce Mpanga, said there were over 7,000 charities, whose activities needed to be regulated.

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