Members of Parliament have questioned President Yoweri Museveni’s directive to the Ministry of Finance to suspend activities of the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) in the country over alleged subversion of government activities.
DGF is the single biggest donor basket established by Development Partners to provide harmonised, coherent and well-coordinated support to state and non-state entities in Uganda. Its funding targets activities that seek to strengthen democratisation, protect human rights, improve access to justice and enhance accountability in Uganda.
But in his January 2, letter to Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, President Museveni said that the Ministry, under the hand of the Permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi irregularly and unilaterally authorized DGF funding, to a tune 500 billion Shillings to be operated exclusively by foreign missions in Uganda.
“Unlike prior grant arrangements like the Democratic Governance and Accountability Project in which there was transparency and representations, the Government of Uganda has no say, or oversight on how the Democratic Governance Facility is administered in Uganda. The foreign mission and its co-funders have been given free rein by the Ministry of Finance to choose which activity, entities and amounts to finance without the knowledge or consent of the Government,” Museveni’s letter reads.
Museveni says that a big percentage of the funds have been used to subvert Government under the guise of improving governance.
“How and why did the Ministry of Finance unilaterally make such a major decision with far-reaching consequences, let alone one whose effect is to surrender the sovereignty of the people of Uganda to foreigners? Was this a result of subversion, corruption or criminal negligence, or all of these? Why wasn’t the Cabinet and I consulted? This is unacceptable,” Museveni said.
He also directed the Minister to immediately suspend the DGF fund until Cabinet has fully reviewed the matter and a new governance structure, in which the elected representatives of Uganda have appropriate oversight has been put in place and approved by him. The President also directed that the Inspectorate of Government, the Inspector General of Police, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and the State House Anti-Corruption Unit to investigate and establish the culpability of the concerned government officials.
But legislators warned that the entity’s finances to different Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and several governments Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) shouldn’t be related to politics. They added the fund has greatly helped the country to further good governance, fight corruption, solve the unemployment problem and several other issues of benefit to society.
Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebaggala raised the matter on the floor of parliament saying that the suspension of DGF would negatively impact the country’s fight against corruption since the facility is key in funding activities meant to stop corruption. He also cautioned that the President should not relate DGF activities to politics and therefore suspending the fund.
Jacob Oboth, the West Budama South MP noted that the suspension of 500 billion Shillings DGF fund would definitely impact on the economy and other government institutions who are relying on it for budget support.
“DGF is of great help to mostly government and other civil societies, so I believe this suspension is arbitrary, I believe that it is in the best interest of Uganda and I believe if the investigation is done, the facility will be reinstated,” said Oboth. He, however, hastened to add that the absence of the facility is going to have several shortfalls in the country’s budget and cause a lot of deficit.
Kassanda North MP Patrick Nsamba said that the move by the President is unfortunate because many people are likely to lose livelihood because of the directive.
Asuman Basalirwa, the Bugiri Municipality MP said that even political parties including the ruling National Resistance Movement –NRM party, under the Inter-party Organization for Dialogue- IPOD have benefited greatly from the DGF. Kumi Municipality MP, Silas Ogon equally pointed out that parliament as an institution is a beneficiary of funding by the DGF and the move to suspend its activities needed to be explained.
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga directed that the government explains to parliament circumstances under which DGF has been suspended. First Deputy Prime Minister Moses Ali said that he would ensure that an explanation is provided by the government.
Finance Minister Kasaija confirmed receipt of the President’s letter but said that his Ministry had not yet taken action pending a brief to President Museveni about new developments. DGF funds more than 70 organisations in Uganda.