KAMPALA, UGANDA: President Yoweri Museveni has directed the Ministry of FInance to suspend with immediate effect the activities of the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), Uganda’s largest pool of donor funding NGOs over what has been termed as financing of subversive activities.
In a January ,2 ,2021 letter , Museveni says he needs answers as to why and how the Ministry of Finance authorized a £100 million (shs500.8 billion) fund to operate illegally in the country without the involvement of cabinet.
“It has come to my attention that the Ministry of Finance under the hand of the Permanent Secretary, irregularly and unilaterally authorized a £100 million fund, known as the Democratic Governance Facility, to be operated exclusively by a foreign mission 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,”Museveni says in the letter to Minister Kasaija.
The visibly angry Museveni says in the letter that he has learnt that a big percentage of the shs500.8 billion went into financing activities and organizations meant to subvert government “in the name of the improving governance.”
The President insists this is unacceptable and the people responsible must account for the same.
Investigate Muhakanizi, other officials
According to the President, it is still baffling how the fund under the hand of the Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary, Keith Muhakanizi was allowed to operate despite not fulfilling all the required conditions.
Museveni says that he has learnt that whereas the Ministry of Finance tried to get a representative on DGF’s board , they were “arrogantly) rebuffed by the foreign mission after being reminded that the exclusive management of the fund lies with them(DGF) and oversight is by the foreign funders exclusively.
The President says it is baffling how this state of affairs was allowed to happen under Muhakanizi’s hand yet it was unfair to government.
“How is it possible that the Ugandans whose affairs are being dealt with here, can only be spectators in the management of their own affairs? This is not the financing of a private business but the funding of state and non-state actors to achieve the political objectives of the funders in Uganda. How and why did the Ministry 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,” Museveni wonders.
“I am therefore directing you to immediately, suspend the activities of this fund, until the cabinet has fully reviewed this matter and a new governance structure in which the elected representatives of the people of Uganda have appropriate oversight, has been put in place and approved by me.”
According to the letter, Museveni has directed the IGG, Inspector General of Police, DPP and the State House Anti-Corruption Unit to investigate the concerned government officials at the Ministry of Finance over possible subversion, corruption and criminal negligence.
The Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) says on their website that the fund was initially established in July 2011 by eight Development Partners including Austria, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and the European Union.
DGF was meant to create a pool of funds from participating countries and having more impact through bigger grants.
The facility was also meant to reduce the effort and expense of accounting to several different donors sometimes over similar projects.
Apart from having more impact through bigger grants, the facility was meant to reduce the effort and expense of accounting to several different donors sometimes over similar projects.
“…a Uganda where citizens are empowered to engage in democratic governance and the state to uphold citizens’ rights,” DGF says of its vision.
DGF in Uganda funds Advocates Coalition for development and environment (ACODE), African Leadership Institute, Alliance for Campaign Finance Monitoring (ACFIM), ActionAid International Uganda and African Centre for Media Excellence among other NGOs.
The latest development comes on the backdrop of comments by the President throughout his campaigns that some sections of the opposition are funded by foreigners to destablise Uganda for their own selfish interests.
Referring to them as fools, Museveni said most of them think he doesnt know them yet he is well aware of their activities.
“They found our children (youths) here and asked them to cause chaos in Uganda just like they did in Libya, Sudan and Zimbabwe not knowing we are a different cup of tea. Those people lit fire on roads not knowing they were spoiling our tarmac,”Museveni during a campaign meeting in Hoima on December,19,2020.
“They tried to disrupt Kampala and the army came in. They thought it was going to be like other countries but the army gave them the medicine they wanted.”
Currently the DGF is implementing its second 5-year phase (January 2018 – December 2022) with support from seven DPs: Austria, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the European Union.
Its stated vision is to create “a Uganda where citizens are empowered to engage in democratic governance and the state to uphold citizens’ rights”.
Some of the organisations funded by DGF, include: Advocates Coalition for development and environment (ACODE), African Leadership Institute, Akina Mama wa Afrika, Alliance for FIance Monitoring (ACFIM), Alliance of Mayors and Municipal Leaders Initiative for Community Action on AIDS at the Local Level (AMICAALL).
Others are: Centre for Basic Research, Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), Centre for Women in Governance (CEWIGO), ActionAid International Uganda (AAIU), African Centre for Media Excellence, African Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC)