The National Bureau for Non-Governmental Organizations -NGO Bureau has suspended the operations of 54 NGOs.
According to the Executive Director of the NGO Bureau Stephen Okello, they conducted investigations which revealed that 23 NGOs are operating with expired permits, 15 failed to file annual returns and audited books of accounts while 16 were operating without registering with the bureau.
The NGO Act requires all NGOs to register with the NGO Bureau, acquire and renew their permit annually to continue operations and also file their annual and audited books of account with the NGO Bureau.
The Bureau is mandated to register, regulate, monitor, inspect, coordinate and oversee all NGO operations in the country.
Okello says the NGOs have been non-complaint and hence ordered that they halt their operations immediately.
The NGOs whose operations have been halted for operating without a valid permit include the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), Western Ankole Civil Society Forum (WACSOF), Citizens’ Concerns Africa, Elohim Power Transforming Africa, Orone Foundation and Light Concepts.
The others are Public Policy Institute, Otubet Youth United Development Organization, Support Girl Child Uganda, Saints Preparation Ministries, Adoration Ministries, Islamic Da-awah and Orphanage Foundation, Jesus Shines Youth Ministries International, La Borne Missionary Centre Uganda, Wanyange Child Support Foundation and Francis Foundation for the Poor.
Also, Ray of Hope International Uganda, Mindset Change Development Organisation, Liberty International Foundation, Foundation for Women Empowerment for Sickler Aid, Karambi Action for Life Improvement, Tech Plus Love Foundation and Centre for Justice Studies and Innovations.
Those suspended indefinitely due to failure to consistently file annual returns and audited books of accounts are Chapter Four Uganda, a human rights organization, Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), Femrite Uganda Women Writers’ Association, African Humanitarian Action, Safe Places Uganda Foundation (SPU), Citizens Platform for Democracy and Accountability, Growth Networks Uganda and Pallisa Civil Society Organisation Networks.
Others are Citizens Election Watch-IT (CEW-I1), Youth Line Forum, Arise Africa International and Dotwa Africa, Rwenzori Consortium for Civic, Centre for Conflict Resolution, Youth Equality Centre.
NGO whose operations have been halted for operating without registering with the NGO Bureau are Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies (GLISS), Rural Action Community Based Organization, Uganda Help Florida, Centre for Sustainability Innovation and Research, Environmental Governance Institute Uganda, Graffen Organization, Butimba Uganda, Kwataniza Women’s Organization, Twimukye Women’s Organization, Witness Radio Uganda and Youth for Green Communities.
Others are Self-worth Initiative, VZW Eight, Adepr Pentecostal International Church Uganda Ltd, Innovations for Democratic Engagement and Action (IDEA), Network for Active Citizens and Leadership Square Africa.
According to Okello local governments and security agencies should help the Bureau and enforce the suspension.
He also asked local government leaders to file an inventory of NGOs operating in their areas to the bureau to monitor them for compliance with the law.
Diana Nabiruma, the senior communications officer at AFIEGO, said their organization is registered with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau-URSB as a non-profit making company.
She however added that there have been several attempts by the government to discredit the Organisation and that the Financial Intelligence Authority-FIA has often attempted to investigate their bank accounts on trumped-up allegations.
The Executive Director of Chapter Four Nicholas Opiyo said that he is surprised by the actions of the NGO Bureau.
He noted that the organization has always filed their annual returns and that they are working with the authorities to clarify what they believe is a misunderstanding.
“We’ll be writing to the National Bureau for NGOs reminding them of documents filed with them and other authorities in Jan this year. We have always acted above board and repudiate any representation of unlawful conduct on our part,” Opio said.
Godber Tumushabe, the Executive Director of GLISS said that his organization is a policy think tank registered as a company limited by guarantee.
He added that the NGO Bureau only wrote to them on Friday informing them that they are operating as an NGO.
Tumushabe said GLISS chooses how it should be registered and has no business knowing what activities are conducted by NGOs.
He describes the acts of the NGO Bureau as harassment that has been escalating over the years aided by the government.
“Every regime that has been in power for 20, 30 years operates the same way, they disrupt civic activity, they co-opt religious institutions to become part of the patronage network, and they undermine business. They all operate the same way, nobody should be surprised with what is happening because Museveni and his group have been in power for more than 25 years now,” Tumushabe said.
Charity Ahimbisibwe, the coordinator of CCEDU referred the URN reporter to their lawyer Anthony Masake.
When contacted, Masake said they will be issuing a statement soon and declined to comment further.