Given our mandate and role, UNNGOF believes the Parliament of Uganda is the most important institution in our participatory democracy. It is the bedrock of citizens' participation in our democratic processes. In this respect, UNNGOF led a delegation of civil society leaders for a meeting with the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Anita Among on 25th January 2023.
The meeting, attended by leaders of the Uganda Women's Network (UWONET), Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), Alliance for Finance Monitoring (ACFIM), and ActionAid Uganda, sought to reestablish the once mutually beneficial partnership between civil society and the Parliament of Uganda.
Reflecting on past collaborative efforts, including work around the Domestic Relations Bill, work with the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee on electoral laws passed in 2019, and the Defense and Internal Affairs Committee on the 2016 NGO Bill, CSO leaders made a case for reawakening the partnership.
With upcoming CSO initiatives like citizens' debates and consultations on the NDP III and electoral reforms, we are at a point where we must build on this history of progressive relationships and revive our partnerships to contribute to some of the ongoing parliamentary processes. Our citizen-centered approach allows us to understand the need for all Ugandans to understand the role of Members of Parliament and the institution of Parliament.
UNNGOF offered its platforms and networks as pathways for intimate interactions between citizens and parliamentary leadership.
Rt. Hon. Anita Among welcomed the propositions and appreciated past and current relationships between the sector and Parliament, especially involvement in legislative processes, providing real citizen feedback, and monitoring government initiatives like the Parish Development Model (PDM).
"In appropriation, it is you that are able to find out what is out there; in terms of accountability and transparency. We give out money, and we don't know whether the money reaches the right people," Ms. Among said.
She appreciated the capacity enhancing initiatives of organisations like FOWODE for getting her and other women leaders to their positions. She pledged to facilitate the process of securing a memorandum of understanding as a formal agreement between UNNGOF and the Office of the Speaker and nominating a technical person to the interagency team of experts.
The Speaker invited civil society leaders to share expertise through targeted training with parliamentary committees to enable them to execute their roles excellently and serve Ugandans better.
The Speaker also received various publications from UNNGOF, including the book on Uganda's Civil Society and the five Sense-Making Policy Papers on Philanthropy in Uganda. In a light moment after receiving the policy papers, she urged CSO leaders to stay true to their values and reject donor funding with conflicting conditions. "I know very well that when you get this foreign funding, it has a lot of attachments," she said.
We look forward to stronger alliances with the Parliament of Uganda to ensure an informed and empowered citizenry actively influencing Uganda's development and governance processes.
Click here to view more photos from the meeting;