NGOs should not be threatened – Gen. Aronda assures NGO Leaders

Published By UNNGOF |  May 19, 2014

Contrary to media reports about the operating environment, Gen Aronda Nyakairima, Minister for Internal Affairs, promised to establish a probation committee into the threats made against Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

The Minister assured NGO Leaders at the meeting held at Silver Springs Hotel in Bugolobi that they will work with Police and set-up an inquiry to follow up cases of NGO break-ins. He added that he will also collaborate with District Committees to find out who is breaking into the NGO offices.

“We will establish what happened by investigating these cases so we can identify who is responsible for these break-ins,” said Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, “we do not want to return our country to a situation of fear that is being caused by a few who are terrorizing NGOs,” he added.

NGO leaders also mentioned various threats that have been made to them by different RDCs to which the Minister said that when they convene a meeting for RDCs, NGOs should be invited so that they (NGOs) can enlighten RDCs and Local Government on the work they do and stop threatening them. Gen Aronda also urged NGOs to train government staff so that they can understand CSO work better.

In addition, CSOs argued that they publish many reports and called upon government to take up some of the recommendations made. Ms. Margaret Sekagya, Executive Director Human Rights Centre Uganda, said that there are many short courses that government staff can enroll onto & learn how NGOs operate. She added that government needs to dialogue and engage more with NGOs even at local levels in order to understand how NGOs operate.

Mr. Richard Ssewakiryanga, Executive Director NGO Forum said, on behalf of NGOs, that some of the current illusions from government and the public about NGO work have fostered due to that minimal support NGOs receive from the National NGO Board.

“We urge the National NGO Board to take up the role of promoting our work and contribution towards Uganda’s development so that we can end the questions about the relevance of NGOs in Uganda,” Said Mr. Ssewakiryanga, “we will however, take up the initiative to start the process for a value study on the contribution of NGOs to Uganda’s development despite the limited availability of funds,” he added.

NGO leaders further committed to expose the mole NGOs that lead to black-smear campaign against the NGO sector. Mr. Arthur Larok, Country Director Action Aid International Uganda, said that both NGOs and Government would love to clean the environment in which we operate. “We assure you that we will identify partisan NGOs in the sector other than brand all of us as political.”

Mr. Larok added that NGO work is not political but rather more of advocacy and the current challenge is that NGOs & government do not communicate consistently.
“We need to draw better strategies and understand that we both contribute to national development. There is need to lessen the friction as well as relay a true picture of what NGOs do at all levels.” added Mr. Larok.

Meeting the Minister of Internal Affairs, barely a week since the offices of Human Rights Network (HURINET) were vandalized, Mr. Livingstone Ssewanyana the Executive Director Foundation for Human Rights Initiative called upon the Ministry to ensure an enabling environment because it is demoralising to go to work & find a vandalised office.