HOW TOYOTA LAND CRUISER DEAL CAUSED NGO FORUM’S SEWAKIRYANGA PROBLEMS
By Mulengera Reporters
In the runner up to 2016 general elections, Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) Uganda Secretariat managers offered to capacitate NGO Forum with over 10 Toyota Land Cruisers. But for unknown reasons, DGF procurement officials avoided Toyota Uganda and opted to buy 2nd hand vehicles from a local car bond in Kampala.
Consequently the Land Cruisers developed engine problems shortly after, prompting NGO Forum Executive Director Richard Sewakiryanga to write to DGF protesting the quality of vehicles delivered. His concerns (which DGF Uganda Head of Program Wim Scoffers refused to discuss when rang on phone saying he was out of the country insisting we speak to Danish Ambassador Majbrit Holm Jakobsen) were genuine but only made the incorruptible Sewakiryanga misunderstood. And the officials at DGF, especially those running the procurement department and that of F&A, became hostile to Sewakiryanga perceiving him as a bad man seeking to discredit their work and reputation.
Efforts were made to quieten him but Sewakiryanga proved too principled to be intimidated. Threats were made that his NGO Forum would be blacklisted and starved of DGF funds but Sewakiryanga didn’t bulge. Attempts were also made to get DGF Head F&A Hanne Christiansen and Danish Ambassador Majbrit Holm Jakobsen speak to him but Sewakiryanga proved too elusive and uncompromising.
Then came the nervousness that things would escalate in case Sewakiryanga remained outspoken causing things to reach the 7 European and Scandinavian governments that annually pour millions of Euros into DGF Uganda operations. Some powerful actors both at the DGF Secretariat and Danish Embassy tried to instigate a coup against Sewakiryanga’s ED job at the NGO Forum. An influential Acholi CSO leader, renowned for bonking white diplomats, was even fronted as the potential replacement. Member organizations were to be blackmailed that DGF funding was stopping unless Sewakiryanga’s leadership was halted.
Mulengera News investigations show that the attempted coup somehow flopped after NGO Forum member organizations vowed to die with Sewakiryanga. The powerful actors at DGF and Danish Embassy relaxed and let things pass as they planned their next offensive. They can be vicious when they choose to fight and NGO world pundits say the past three years (2016-2019) have been some of the worst in Sewakiryanga’s days on planet earth.
Detractors at Danish Embassy and DGF have been trying to use the NGO Forum’s governing board to squeeze Sewakiryanga out but this too hasn’t succeeded because of the prudence with which Board chairman Nicolas Opio has acted thus far. The idea was to terminate Sewakiryanga’s contract on grounds of inability to work well with donors but majority board members backed Opio and rejected such blackmail by powerful influencers at DGF.
All the above failures combined to only increase frustrations among Sewakiryanga’s pursuers at both DGF and Royal Danish Embassy (RDE). Curious whistle blower petitions were originated accusing Sewakiryanga of fraudulent practices while serving as Board Chairman for Uganda Land Alliance. An audit firm was engage with strict instructions to fix Sewanyana but he somehow prevailed as ever. The fictitious accountabilities that were attributed to him couldn’t stick once subjected to thorough scrutiny.
It then escalated to his own NGO Forum staff being manipulated and recruited to sabotage Sewakiryanga from within. To thoroughly implicate him, one of the moles working from within was aided to obstruct the CCTV cameras inside the office resulting into several accountability files being sneaked out of the office. This was to be used to justify Sewakiryanga being implicated for files missing in his own office as ED. Haters within NGO Forum would openly brag to their friends that Sewakiryanga will have to pay for disclosing to DGF fund-contributing governments that the vehicle fleet given to his NGO in 2016 were 2nd hand and not brand new. He was also accused of claiming officials at DGF Secretariat and RDE were fond of favoring NGOs whose bosses acquiesced to demands of kickback whereas not.
“Nobody stands up to the powerful and gets away with it. This is the reason you will have to leave NGO Forum or risk the organization being blacklisted off the list of recipients of DGF funds,” one disgruntled NGO Forum member of staff daringly told Sewakiryanga one morning in 2017. “Munange this is Uganda and sometimes cooperating with those people is a must.”
And true to their divide and rule approach, some of the bosses at DGF and RDE have also invested plenty of time and resources in isolating Sewakiryanga by appearing to unnecessarily flatter and pamper other NGO leaders in order to make Sewakiryanga seem the bad one. Great Lakes Institute for Sustainable Studies (GLISS)’s Godbar Tumushabe, Chapter Four’s Nicolas Opio and Action Aid’s Arthur Larok have been some of the targets of this very crude manipulation all aimed at fixing Sewakiryanga. (For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755 or email us at email@example.com).