Published By UNNGOF |  August 11, 2015

At a CSO National consultation on good governance and constitutionalism in the EAC, held on 13th August 2015 in Kampala, over 50 representatives of civil society gathered to agree on a common position to be presented at the 4th EAC Secretary General’s forum I Kigali in September.

The Secretary General’s (SG) Forum is an annual event organized by the EAC Secretariat to provide a platform for different stakeholders like faith based organizations, civil society, private sector, government agencies and other interest groups to voice their concerns on regional issues.

Under the umbrella of East African Community Civil Society Forum (EACSOF) Uganda Chapter, the meeting was intended to provide updates on the upcoming SG forum, identify citizens’ views on the issues up for discussion at the Forum, and to reflect on the role of CSOs in deepening and widening the integration process.

The need to deal with the shrinking civic space; free and fair elections; public participation in decision making processes; respect for the rule of law and human rights; poor service delivery; rights based approach in the extractive sector; policies on gender; good governance inter alia, were some of the issues that emerged from the meeting.

Speaking to the issue of civic space, Mr Arthur Larok, Action Aid Uganda stressed that the biggest contestation on the rule of law is the concept of power in people versus the people in power where the later strive to control the former through retrogressive legislations, thereby ruling ‘by law’ rather than by the ‘rule of law’ as insinuated. “We must review all legislations in the EAC about NGOs and CSOs using the African Charters; Democracy, Governance and Elections and the Human People’s Rights.”

As part of her submissions on electoral reforms, Ms Patricia Munaabi, FOWODE, called upon women to take charge and be contributors in ensuring peace and stability in the region. She reiterated that “elections are important and if not handled well may cause turmoil and instability hence the need for electoral reforms to foster stable and effective governance systems.”

In totality, it was agreed that poor service delivery, abuse of human rights, discrepancies in the electoral processes all hinge on bad governance and thus called upon the SG’s Forum to extensively address it and also implore member states to respect the protocols they ratified.