Are NGOs serving or robbing people in Uganda?

RANCHI – There has been rumours circulating round in the Ugandan and social media that many Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) or call them Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are not operating and serving their intended purposes, more especially those that deal to alleviate poverty and those that strive to help the needy children attain a good education among others.

This generated a debate and questions put up by Meddi Nsereko Ssebuliba to the listeners. Nsereko is a radio talk show host on Central Broadcasting Service (CBS), a local radio station managed and owned by the Buganda Kingdom. On his programme, Kiriza Oba Gaana which ran on February 18th, 2013 between 1900hrs – 2100hrs Eastern African Standard Time, raised a lot of contentious issues.

Back in November 2012, NGOs in Uganda formed a pressure group called Black Monday Movement with a vision to contribute towards securing a life of dignity for all Ugandans. It focuses on to end the public and shameless theft of public funds by the senior public servants. The group came up with a strategy of wearing black T-shirts or shirts every first Monday of the month.

The fire was ignited by office of The Auditor General in October 2012 when it released a special audit report indicating that up to Shs 50 billion was misappropriated by staff in the Prime Minister’s office. The misappropriated funds were intended for post-war recovery in Northern Uganda under the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP). When the  donors read and head about it, they immediately started cutting aid. The donors that cut aid include the World Bank, European Union, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom that amounted to US$260 million according to Keith Muhakanizi  the deputy secretary to the Treasury.

The Ugandan government has gone ahead to refund part of the stolen funds at a tune of USD 14 millions out of the Treasury in a supplementary budget yet the Parliament is expected to approve it. Cases are being heard in court and in parliament over public theft. But is this enough without selling off the property of those who are accused with evidence to recover the lost funds? Where did the government get the money to refund the stolen billions of dollars? How do the people in the war torn ravaged north think about the corrupt officials? The list is endless.

Retired Assistant Bishop of Kampala, the Rt. Reverend Dr. Zac Niringiye is one of its greatest campaigners of the Black Monday Movement. He was at one time apprehended and incarcerated by police. He was found distributing newsletter publications with other activists. The police told the media that the Bishop was handing out subversive materials centrally to what they (police and the pressure group) had agreed on.

However, many callers to the station raised voices that many NGOs have robbed them off their money and some have grown from being non-profit making to profit making. They (callers) said that some of these NGOs seem not to deliver their intended purposes. Although, more were said, many still lacked evidence to pin the NGOs while others were confusing them with SACCOs. Other callers stated that some NGOs have gone ahead to fleece the would-be beneficiaries especially those that seems to award bursaries to ask for registrations fees and in the end, they bursaries are not awarded.

On the other hand, Richard Ssewakiryanga the Executive Director of Uganda NGO Forum called into the show and advised the victims to seek police intervention and also be on the lookout of fraudsters. He said that it is not the work of Uganda NGO Forum to apprehend these NGOs but the work of the citizens and police. The moderator also asked Ssewakiryanga about the comments uttered by one Vincent Nuwagaba that Black Monday Movement has twisted its self from fighting corruption to breeding it. Nuwagaba still insists that the pressure group wants the Ugandan government to be transparent and yet the movement is not transparent at all, meaning Black Monday Movement is not transparent. A lot more are yet to be unearthed if indeed the pressure group is not transparent. Was Nuwagaba aggrieved by Black Monday Movement or is speaking and acting from Civil Society Infancy rather or is his ego not satisfied?

On the contrary, Ssewakiryanga retorted that Vincent Nuwagaba was indiscipline who needed to be made straight and come to light of the just cause. Nuwagaba mentioned that some NGOs on the campaign are crying foul like Uganda Debt Network, Uganda Anti Corruption Network, DENIVA among others.

On a personal note, there have been many Nuwagaba’s who pretend to be unsatisfied especially when it comes to personal gains from the just cause on which a group was started and instead act like real sympathizer and whistle blowers. But still on the same notch and at a much more higher level, some leaders from well established NGOs tend to divide and leave out representatives from smaller CSOs out of the equation thereby bringing rise to the Nuwagabas. To me Vincent Nuwagaba’s concerns should be introspected to have a conclusive base on which he came out to utter such words and later post on his facebook wall. The citizens also have a viable concern that should be heard.

Apparently, some NGOs though not all, are serving and operating on its intended pillars on which it set out to operate. Some cases have been heard in which these organisations fleece people. The authorities in some districts have gone ahead to close them indefinitely as others are given pardon to operate again but with caution depending on how strong the case was.

Wikipedia defines NGOs as legally constituted organisations created by natural or legal people that operate independently from any form of government. The term originated from the United Nations (UN), and normally refers to organisations that are not a part of a government and are not conventional for-profit businesses. In the cases in which NGOs are funded totally or partially by governments, the NGO maintains its non-governmental status by excluding government representatives from membership in the organisation. The term is usually applied only to organisations that pursue wider social aims that have political aspects, but are not openly political organisations such as political parties.

A lot of thieving is going on in the Banana Republic of Uganda which Winston Churchill proudly called the Pearl of Africa. Not only is it in government alone but even now in Civil Society according to Vincent Nuwagaba. Have the Ugandans lost the moral fiber? Who is to blame? Initially it was Kenya that topped the corruption charts in East Africa. With Burundi and Uganda at the forefront, soon one of the two will merge victor.


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I am a Mulamogi from Bulamogi sub-region in Kaliro district. Bulamogi was founded around 1550 by Zibondo Lamogi. When the British arrived in Uganda, they made Bulamogi a British protectorate in Busoga in 1896. Remember, Bulamogi was a chiefdom. My grandfather was a chief. I am a Smooth Jazz fanatic and Formula One enthusiast. Anything else, find me at my own leisure time. God bless. Peace and love.

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