The Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF) in partnership with the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) with the support of National Democratic Institute organized a Civil Society Organizations-Parliament Interface meeting on Tuesday, 17th June, 2014.
The meeting brought together about fifty (50) participants comprised of key CSO leaders that seek to positively influence the work of Parliament with their advocacy as well as members of Parliament who included Hon. Emmanuel Dombo and Hon. Betty Amongi alongside Dr. Dison Okumu, Director Planning and corporate services.
Hon. Dombo noted that all sectors have progressively realized and recognized the role of Parliament as mandated by the Constitution and argued that this is a very good indicator of inclusive democracy. He further noted that CSOs have contributed greatly to the policy formulation by submitting their expert opinions on proposed laws, influencing other policies by fronting citizens’ voices among others. He however noted disappointment with CSOs concentrating on criticizing Parliament rather than being part of problem solving.
Hon. Betty Amongi retaliated Hon. Dombo’s observation but further applauded the work of the CSOs in engaging with Parliament. She urged CSOs to continue building individual relationship with MPs so as to boost synergy. She lamented the lack of organization and coordination by CSOs since Parliament is faced with a lot of similar activities done by different CSOs. She therefore called upon CSOs to get organized and well coordinated so that they can effectively engage with Parliament for the better.
Dr. Dison Okumu thanked the Platform for the continued relationship with Parliament and called upon CSOs to continually engage with MPs and make this practical. He offered tips such as aligning with the NDP II and Parliament’s Strategic Plan, creating alliances with MPs, engaging more with Parliamentary Committees among others.
As a response to these remarks, CSOs committed to better organization as they engage with Parliament. This was demonstrated by the introduction of the cluster approach against the forthcoming Bills which CSOs developed as a mechanism for collective effort and reduction of duplication of same activities. Civil society organisations further asked the Parliamentarians to be more responsive to the issues they raise especially the rampant absenteeism from both the House and the constituencies.
In addition, CSOs pointed out that much as there is work that needs to be done in better organization, we have contributed to Uganda’s development. MPs and other present guests were invited to attend the 4th Civil Society Organisation’s Fair slated for 26th – 27th June where CSOs will showcase their work in an exhibition.