DONORS DEMAND REFORMS AT CCEDU AS CEO CHARITY BASHES RIVAL NGO BODIES
By Andrew Baba
Responding to our Sunday story, CCEDU coalition Ag National Coordinator Charity Ahimbisibwe has confirmed that the findings contained in the external audit report for the year 2019 prompted DGF, one of their key funders, to demand institutional reforms at the Nsambya-based entity. In a Mulengera News phone interview, Ahimbisibwe told this writer that the “truth is our audit for 2019 wasn’t very good” and that basing on the same organizational audit findings, their funders made specific demands.
That they demanded immediate delinking of CCEDU from FHRI which is headed by Dr. Livingstone Sewanyana who founded and headed CCEDU as chairman for 10 years. That the donors were uncomfortable seeing FHRI having extreme control and influence on activities and decision-making at CCEDU and demanded that CCEDU registers as an independent NGO and begin having its own independent existence. She added that DGF also demanded reforms in their financial management systems resulting into some employees being asked to leave the organization in the interest of its longevity and image.
Without disclosing details, Ahimbisibwe said “the good thing though is that we are dialoguing with DGF and communication channels remain open.” However, she was uncomfortable disclosing the details and contents of what they are dialoguing about. To show that DGF still values CCEDU’s unrivalled expertise and resourcefulness when it comes to voter education and observation of electoral processes, Ahimbisibwe said they were recently requested to boost the inadequately-resourced NGO Forum which DGF had facilitated to observe the conduct of EC officials during the voter register update exercise.
Without being free to divulge deeper details, a tough-talking Ahimbisibwe (who kept referring to her credentials as a veteran journalist) said this is proof that nobody can beat CCEDU in voter education and observation of electoral processes in this country. She then blamed rival NGOs (didn’t name any) whose bosses she said envy the fact that CCEDU is unrivalled in certain things because of the vast capabilities it has built over the years. “The truth is many of them don’t have the kind of capacity that CCEDU has and it’s the reason they are exaggerating things to discredit the image CCEDU has built and consolidated over the years,” asserted the veteran communicator who has worked for CCEDU for now five years.
The bubbly former upcountry reporter previously worked with New Vision and Daily Monitor as manager supplements section. Her claim that the CCEDU woes are being inflamed by rival NGOs, that hate the coalition’s successes and accomplishments, corroborates what Dr. Livingstone Sewanyana told Mulengera News earlier in the day. Whereas Dr. Sewanyana admitted that donors (read DGF) had turned their back on CCEDU after citing certain concerns, Ahimbisibwe (who former CCEDU head Crispin Kaheru recommended to replace him as he resigned last October) was belligerent and very dismissive about that issue of DGF withholding funding until certain concerns are addressed. This DGF discomfort, Sewanyana explained, is the reason why CCEDU (that in the past was active and visible months to electioneering year) has largely remained inconspicuous regarding the 2021 electioneering period because the organization remains financially constrained in the absence of the DGF billions.
To effectively downplay the alleged donor indifference towards CCEDU, Ahimbisibwe referenced on the fact that funders like UNDP and others are still very impressed with the corporate governance and accountability systems at CCEDU. “It’s only Oxfam whose funding we lost simply because they shifted from governance advocacy in favor of service delivery like water programs and their departure had nothing to do with CCEDU not being accountable like those haters are insinuating.” She also denied impropriety in the way the 200 mobile phones were procured from Simba Telecom to facilitate data collection in the field because CCEDU’s procurement practices are too elaborate to be abused by any one single individual. Subsequent to our phone interview, Charity Ahimbisibwe texted and shared the following text for additional clarification on what she had articulated earlier: “For the record. The reforms we undertook are:1. Institutionalisation of ccedu as an independent entity from Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) formerly CCEDUs host institution, 2. Incorporation of CCEDU by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) as a recognised, legal entity; 3. Registration of CCEDU with the National Bureau for NGOs, 4. Registration of Ccedu with FIA, 5. Convening an Annual Membership platform (564 members from each district), 6. Elected a ccedu Board of Directors of five (5), 7. Taking Administrative Action on staff in the Finance and Administration Department implicated in financial mismanagement and corruption and 8. Restructuring the ccedu secretariat to put in place core staff like director of programmes [and] Director of Finance and Administration.” (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp the writer on 0774583286/0708575932 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).