The speaker of parliament Rt. Hon. Anita Among has proposed that government should consider creating a special budget allocation to fund activites undertaken by civil society groups in Uganda.
The speaker’s remarks came during a meeting with leaders of civil society groups under Uganda National Non-Government Organization Forum at her office in parliament today.
Led by the Director NGO Forum Mr Isoba Moses, the civil society leaders implored the speaker to rally members in support of their planned activities including a nationwide consultation campaign to have government embark on political and legal reforms under a comprehensive review of the Constitution.
Constrained by funds after government’s recent closure of DGF which funded most of their operations, the CSO leaders implored the speaker to speak about the matter. Among said, government tbrough parliament should allocate a budget for CSO activities since NGOs compliment government effort to serve the citizens.
Among said using NGO structures, dissemination of information relating to development programmes of government like Parish Development Model will be easy. She lauded efforts by CSOs in supporting parliament work in areas of advocacy, oversight and legislation.
“I want to commit parliament support for NGOs and funding should not be a problem; the practice of NGOs going begging for donor funding will soon stop because parliament will allocate money for their activities. I even know those funds come with strings attached” Among said.
Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) Executive Director Patricia Munaabi said CSOs are currently exploring the option of generating resources locally through philanthropists and groups that appreciate the cause of CSOs, contrary to government funding which may compromise their ability to play a watchdog role.
“This is a conversation that we have had and which we continue to have as we continue on whether we can operate on goverment funding and as well continue to play our watchdog role effectively” Patricia Munaabi said.
Henry Muguzi the Executive Director Alliance for Campaign financing and Monitoring (ACFIM) said CSOs cannot risk being looked at as appendages of the state because government may compromise the independence of the NGOs.
“Non-profit organizations world over find ways of getting funding through foundations and charity in order to be independent and autonomus, and represent the voice of citizens. We believe we can raise funding through our own mechanisms not from the state” Henry Muguzi said.
The CSOs told thr speaker that they plan to launch nationwide consultations on Constitutional reforms and a team of experts from Uganda Law Reform Commission, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Uganda Human Rights Commissiin, the Electoral Commission and NGOs has already been constituted to handle the matter.