15 December 2012

Uganda: NGOs Hit Back At President Museveni Over Oil

President Yoweri Museveni vowed to resist any foreign interference in Uganda's oil sector. ( Resource: Uganda Focuses On Oil and Gas )

NGOs which President Yoweri Museveni accused of funding MPs to oppose the Oil Bill have shot back. The heads of the NGOs say they will not be intimidated or gagged.

Frank Muramuzi, the executive director of the National Association of Professional Environmentalists, said they would not give up the fight.

"Oil is a resource that belongs to us all. We should have equal say in how it is going to be managed. We wanted a good law; the Government wanted a bad law. Clause 9 of the Bill is bad for the country. The government should be accountable and we are doing our work to create more transparency."

Muramuzi wondered how NGOs could bribe parliamentarians when government controls how they operate and knows the sources of their income. He said NGOs were not promoting foreign interests but doing their civic right.

In his speech on Thursday, Museveni said the activities of the NGOs were intended to appease donors.

Godber Tumushabe, the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment chief, found fault with the President's query on NGOs' source of funding. "Our sources of funding are similar to those of the Ugandan government so they are not illegal."

He added: "Our intention as a civil society has never been to frustrate the oil process. From outset, we were pushing government to expedite the oil law. Our role was to ensure that parliamentarians were more knowledgeable about oil so they could make informed decisions. It is unfortunate that the President is labelling us agents of foreign interest."

Dickens Kamugisha, the Africa Institute for Energy Governance chief, said many politicians could not be trusted with public funds in the absence of strong laws to guard against misuse. He added that the donors who suspended aid to the Government were the ones funding NGOs.

The energy ministry's spokesperson, Matovu Bukenya, said the Police had embarked on investigating foreign groups sabotaging oil programmes. But he declined to mention some of the groups.

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