By Andrew Irumba
Kampala: The pressure mounted by government on Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) in Uganda has started yielding results.
The first senior NGO official to succumb to this pressure is Crispin Kaheru, who has been the coordinator of Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy Uganda (CCEDU), who has thrown in the towel.
Spy Uganda has learnt that Kaheru handed in his resignation letter on Tuesday October 8, 2019 and told the public that he will no longer head CCEDU, although he denied allegations that he had resigned as a result of government pressure.
Kaheru’s resignation letter, which is combined with a report about the recently concluded Hoima and Kaboong districts Woman Member of Parliament by-elections, is here below;
NOTICE OF RESIGNATION FROM CCEDU
11th September 2019
Honourable Dr. Miria R.K. Matembe
Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU)
Plot 1111 John Kiyingi Road, Nsambya
Dear Honourable Dr. Matembe:
Re: Notice of Resignation
First of all I wish to congratulate you on your election as Chair of CCEDU’s Board of Directors. Your election comes at a time of transformation and I am confident that, under your leadership, the Board will ensure that CCEDU is fit for purpose. During the past nine (9) years, I have had the honour of working with CCEDU and the Secretariat team on enriching our citizenship experience as Ugandans. I have experienced moments of extraordinary progress as well as great challenges. I have led teams and participated in critical historical events. During this period, I have also fulfilled my personal commitment.
Madam Chair, this letter serves as notice that I will be resigning from my position as the Coordinator of the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) with effect from Friday 11th October 2019 at 5:30pm (17:30hours). Please note that 11th October 2019 will mark exactly nine (9) years since I became the Coordinator of CCEDU. On assuming that role, at the age of 26, I made a personal commitment to serve in this position for a maximum of nine (9) years; so now, having fulfilled my personal pledge, it is time for me to begin a new phase in my professional life.
Below, please find an overview of some of the achievements that have characterised my tenure of service:
We have made great strides in ensuring that CCEDU recruits and retains enthusiastic professional staff, who are capable of delivering on the Coalition’s mandate. CCEDU’s staff profile has grown from two (2) volunteers in 2009 to 15 full-time staff in 2019. CCEDU has over the years striven to build the most talented and dedicated team for the Secretariat. Besides the Secretariat, CCEDU has built a robust human resource pool in every district of Uganda. Although this network is not formally a part of the Secretariat, its role feeds directly into the work of the Secretariat on a daily basis and has kept CCEDU on top of political and electoral developments in the country every day.
Madam Chair, I have worked closely with my colleagues at the Secretariat, and I can attest to their unmatched abilities to take CCEDU to higher levels.
At senior managerial level, both Ms. Charity Ahimbisibwe, currently the Head of Communication and Mr. Ivan Mwaka, the Head of Elections, have the competencies and skills to execute major organizational decisions, manage overall operations and resources of CCEDU, and act as the focal point of communication between the Board of Directors and the Coalition. In fact, they have reliably held fort when I have been away on mission.I am confident that I leave behind a team that is first and foremost committed to the cause of CCEDU, but also more importantly, a team with unparalleled experience and expertise in managing electoral matters of the country and the region at large.
2.Institutionalisation and Institutional Strengthening:
Madam Chairperson, CCEDU has evolved into a fully-fledged legal entity registered with the Bureau of NGOs. From a humble start in 2009 when I joined, CCEDU is now a strong actor, constructively influencing electoral and political affairs in the country and beyond. From sixteen (16) founding member organisations in 2009, CCEDU’s institutional membership has since grown to 972 reputable organisations. In addition, CCEDU’s individual members have increased from 302 in 2009 to over 25,018 in 2019. I have had the honour of overseeing the growth of the ‘CCEDU fans base’ from 1,250 in 2009 to 4,980,201 Ugandans in 2019. We now have up-to-date and accurate contact information of all our fans in an official database.
Strengthening the framework for election management in Uganda will require putting the citizens and their aspirations at the centre of the struggle for free, fair, credible and transparent elections.
3.Programmes and Partnerships:
Madam Chair, CCEDU has carved out a niche in advocacy for electoral reforms, conducting voter mobilisation campaigns and monitoring electoral processes. During my tenure, I have had the honour of coordinating critical nationwide citizen-centered electoral reform advocacy efforts as well as superintending over non-conventional voter-mobilisation campaigns such as, Honour Your Vote, Votability and Topowa. These campaigns positively influenced millions of Ugandans.
I have had the opportunity to lead election-monitoring exercises – both locally and internationally, on behalf of CCEDU. I proudly leave behind a pool of about 9,645 trained, domestic election observers. Some of the initiatives I have had the honour to lead have delivered tangible results; while others have laid a firm foundation for stronger citizen self-representation.
I have had the enviable opportunity of leading CCEDU into the Uganda National Dialogue process since 2016, and the National Initiative for Civic Education in Uganda launched in March 2019. Madam Chair, I am convinced that these are important spaces for CCEDU to drive its agenda and that of fellow Ugandans – if well managed. I encourage the Board to remain open and supportive to both processes as spaces to contribute to the promotion of genuine democracy, constructive citizenship and sustainable development.
I am honoured to have worked with a civic group that leverages the purely voluntary spirit of hundreds of thousands of its members across the country. It is gratifying to note that for the entire period I have worked with CCEDU, members have faithfully contributed their time, intellectual and financial capital towards CCEDU’s campaigns without necessarily expecting to be financially rewarded. This spirit of volunteerism of the membership is what has given me the strength and courage to make extraordinary sacrifices that I would ordinarily not have made.
Madam Chair, as I exit, I can assure you that I leave behind a committed CCEDU membership that truly believes in the vision and mission of CCEDU – and a membership that is foresighted and ready to walk the last mile to realise the Coalition’s aspirations.
My final year (2019) at CCEDU has focused on overseeing institutional reforms to make the Coalition and its structures more vibrant and supportive of CCEDU’s mission.In a meeting held on 6th September 2019, I extensively shared with you the institutional reforms that I have been able to effect – as well as my strategic vision for CCEDU. I sincerely hope that both the reforms so far implemented and elements in the strategic vision discussed will further set CCEDU on a firm path to continue effectively championing the necessary electoral reforms, election monitoring and voter mobilisation/education.
Madam Chair, I will make certain that my Handover Report covering my tenure at CCEDU is updated before my last day of work. I will also officially hand in all CCEDU property and equipment that is in my possession prior to my departure.I remain available to help with the transition of my Coordination duties so that the CCEDU operations continue to run smoothly after my departure. In addition, I will also be available to support any CCEDU-related transitional assignments – on a purely voluntary basis.
Lastly, I may have erred in different ways or fallen short of the high expectations of many, as I executed my coordination role. Please note that I strove to be the best that I could be in carrying out my duties. I ask for forgiveness from those I may have wronged. To those who assisted me on my professional path, I am sincerely grateful. To those that I may have helped, I truly wish I had done more. To those who feel that I did not help or did not help enough, I humbly ask for your understanding.
Going forward, it is my most sincere hope that CCEDU remains an independent and objective player so that it retains the confidence of the citizens of Uganda.Despite the pressures that characterise Uganda´s political terrain, CCEDU should always strive to remain on the side of truth and on the path of integrity.
Madam Chair, as I retire from my role, I want to reiterate that it has been an exceptional honour and privilege to serve the citizens of Uganda. I am proud to have done so, with a dedicated team that has a deep commitment to CCEDU.
Please accept my prayers for your success and that of the entire CCEDU membership going forward.