HERE IS THE STORY OF CRISPIN KAHERU, ONE OF THE NEW CHIEFS AT UHRC
By Joel Mugabi
To many Ugandans, Crispin Kugiza Kaheru was the man synonymous with the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), the organization for which he was National Coordinator for almost a decade. It was at CCEDU that Kaheru rose to prominence after becoming coordinator at the age of 26. But Kaheru’s story doesn’t begin – and will not obviously end – at CCEDU.
Just this week, Clerk to Parliament Adolf Kasaija Mwesige informed Kaheru that President Yoweri Museveni had chosen him alongside former Ethics and Integrity Minister Fr Simon Lokodo, former Kampala opposition politician Shifra Lukwago and former Sheema District Woman MP Jacklet Atuhaire to serve as Commissioners of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC). Parliament’s Appointments Committee will vet the appointees tomorrow.
So, what is of Kaheru’s journey thus far. According to his bio, Kaheru is a distinguished Ugandan civil rights activist, a champion and defender of human rights and liberties who boasts of over 15 years of international experience in designing, implementing and evaluating community level election, human rights, accountability, peace building and conflict resolution initiatives in Africa, Asia, and parts of Europe.
Regarding his childhood and education, Kaheru spent part of his early years in Glasgow Scotland, where he underwent home schooling. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Makerere University Kampala (2005), a Post Graduate Diploma in Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies from the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain (2009), and Master’s degree in Public Administration and Management from Makerere University Kampala (2013). Watch video (English version)
The youthful human rights and electoral democracy defender also holds a Certificate in the Practice of Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America (2018).
About two years ago, Kaheru, who is popular for his skills in influencing teams, leading positive change, community organizing as well as mediating and resolving conflict, completed a United Nations’ sponsored Insider Mediators’ course at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael) in The Hague.
Very passionate about the nexus between governance and inclusive, sustainable and innovative development, Kaheru has also trained and practiced in NGO and corporate governance, public sector management, administrative law, and strategic management. Watch video (Luganda version)
Kaheru has worked in the civil society industry in several countries, beginning as an intern and has continued to shine and rise to the top. In 2005, he started off at the International Republican Institute (IRI), a US democracy promotion NGO, and worked at IRI’s Uganda, Pakistan and Bangladesh offices. Within just 36 months at IRI, Kaheru had risen from an intern to a Program Officer.
In 2009, at the age of 26, he briefly worked at the IRI Washington DC Office in 2009, before taking up the National Coordinator position at CCEDU, the largest civic coalition in Uganda/Eastern and Southern Africa.
At CCEDU, Kaheru set out to lead a civic education and advocacy portfolio focused on increasing citizens’ knowledge and participation in democratic processes. And he has done so for two general elections, tremendously increasing voter participation in Ugandan polls.
For example, his 2011 election voter mobilization campaign dubbed ‘Honour Your Vote’ is credited for the 59 per cent voter turnout despite clear voter apathy while CCEDU’s 2016 Votability voter education campaign is believed to have been the major inspiration for a record 90 per cent of eligible Ugandans to register to participate in the 2016 general elections.
In that same election period, Kaheru and CCEDU undertook the Topowa campaign which saw voter turnout increase from 59 per cent in 2011 to 68 in 2016. Over the years, Kaheru has brilliantly used his position at CCEDU to influence legislative reform processes and electoral support processes in Uganda and other countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Namibia, Lesotho, Mozambique and South Africa.
His hard work has seen him build an extensive international network of influencers on matters citizen’ participation in democratic governance, rule of law and development, making many actors, including the United Nations and African Union, recognize him as a key interlocutor.
Besides his role at CCEDU, Kaheru has served on governing boards of reputable local and international organizations such as being the Chairperson of the East and Horn of Africa Election Observation Network (E-HORN), Secretary of the National Initiative for Civic Education in Uganda (NICE-UG), Member of the African Union (AU) team of election experts, Member of the International Board of Media Focus International (MFI) since 2014, and Member of the Board of Directors of the Anti-Corruption Coalition of Uganda (ACCU). Additionally, since 2016, Kaheru sat on the ‘Working Group of Seven’ government and non-government institutions mandated to organize the National Dialogue Process for Uganda to adaptively address root causes of conflict that have continuously threatened sustainable peace, security and development for the country and the region.
An author of over 500 analytical opinion pieces and over 10 research papers on elections, governance and human rights, Kaheru was a nominee for the 2017 Human Rights Defenders Award of the European Union.
As he takes up a job at UHRC, it is hoped that Kaheru will use his position as a Commissioner to promote the protection of Ugandans’ rights, condemn and push for action against state agencies and officials that have sometimes been accused of being involved in acts of human rights violations.(For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).