By Andrew Irumba
Kampala: Furious President Yoweri Museveni in a new move to curb notorious foreign operations in Uganda has ordered the Ministry of Finance, to shut down the activities of the £100 million (UGX500.8 billion) Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) accusing the organization of operating irregularly and financing subversive activities in his peaceful country.
His orders have been delivered to Kasaija via his 2nd January 2021 letter, where he tasked the minister to explain how and why the Permanent Secretary, Keith Muhakanizi authorized the operations of DGF without the involvement of the cabinet.
Museveni wrote, “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 were 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-founders 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.
Indeed, a big percentage of these funds have been used to finance activities and organisations designed to subvert Government under the guise of improving governance.”
The president also accused DGF funders and managers of denying the government a seat on its board, thereby denying it an opportunity to monitor the usage of these funds.
“I have also established that last year, the Ministry of Finance made a belated and feeble attempt to get a Government Representative on the Board of this fund which would have been of little consequence anyway. However, you were quickly an arrogantly rebuffed by the foreign mission because apparently as you were reminded by that foreign mission, the exclusive management of the fund lies with them and oversight is by the foreign co-founders, exclusively,” Museveni further said.
“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?” he quizzed Kasaija. This is unacceptable,” he added.
“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,” he said, adding that a full investigation should be launched into the errant government officials at Ministry of Finance.
“By copy of this letter, the Inspectorate of Government, the Inspector General of Police, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and the Statehouse Anti-Corruption Unit should investigate this matter to establish the culpability of the concerned Government Officials,” he said.
But Who Is Democratic Governance Facility That Is Disturbing Old Man’s Peace?
Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) was initially established in July 2011 by eight Development Partners (DPs): Austria, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Union. It was initially a five-year governance programme aimed at “providing harmonised, coherent and well-coordinated support to state and non-state entities to strengthen democratisation, protect human rights, improve access to justice and enhance accountability in Uganda.
The Programme goal was to contribute to equitable growth, poverty eradication, rule of law and long-term stability in Uganda. This programme marked the first phase of DGF that ended in June 2016. A transitional period of 18 months, supported by the same DPs, was implemented from July 2016 to December 2017-according to their website profile.
Its stated vision is to create “an 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).