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By Joel Mugabi

The opposition in Parliament has raised a red flag over government’s alleged clampdown on operations of civil society organisations in Uganda. During wednesday’s plenary, Leader of the Opposition Mathias Mpuuga (Nyendo-Mukungwe, NUP) delegated Shadow Minister for Defence Abdallah Kiwanuka (Mukono North, NUP) to present a statement on the shrinking operational space of civil society organisations in the country.

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In their statement, the opposition noted that although CSOs are champions of transparency, information sharing and holding government accountable in pursuit of service delivery, “the state is increasingly clamping down CSOs operations in Uganda” and that “the clampdown is both systemic and targeted.”

Kiwanuka’s statement touched on the state’s relationship with political parties, NGOs, media and journalists, cultural and religious institutions. For political parties, the opposition complained that the state has been “highly repressive towards organized effort of dissent.”

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“Opposition political parties are not accorded a conducive environment within which to operate as per the dictates of a free and democratic leadership enshrined under Article 29(11(e) of the Constitution of Uganda. Security forces deter them from popularizing their parties while on the other hand facilitating popularization of the ruling party,” submitted Kiwanuka.

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“In disregard of the Constitution, throughout the entire campaigns in the recently concluded general elections, Police and the army specifically targeted journalists that covered the campaign programmes of the opposition candidates.”

The opposition now wants the Electoral Commission Act amended to redefine the role of police and other armed personnel during elections. “The role of conducting elections should be the reserve of the Electoral Commission,” added Kiwanuka.

The opposition MPs have also called for an increment in funding for the National Consultative Forum to empower the platform to fast-track its statutory mandate under the Political Parties and Organizations Act. “The enhanced funding would improve the operations of the Forum to build the capacities of all political parties in Uganda and propagate dialogue of the notional level with the intent of wiping out political persecution and strengthening democratic values,” explained Kiwanuka.

The opposition also complained that the NGO Bureau is “overreaching in execution of its mandate.” Kiwanuka cited the suspension, in August 2021, of 54 NGOs over expired permits, failure to file annual returns or failure to register with authorities.


“It was noted that most of the NGOs that were suspended were monitoring election results and advocate for protection of human rights. However, some NGOs adduced evidence that they were unduly suspended for they had fulfilled requirements for permit renewal,” his statement further read in part.

He also claimed that the state had “made its insecurity about donor funding” for NGOs very well known to all by suspending the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF). Regarding the media, the opposition accused state security agencies of targeting reporters that covered opposition politicians.

The Museveni critics in Parliament also accused Government of failure to constitute the Uganda Communications Tribunal which would have handled complaints relating to the decisions of UCC as provided for under Section 60 and 64 of the Uganda Communications Commission Act.

For cultural institutions, the opposition cited government’s failure to return properties confiscated by previous regimes. Kiwanuka went on to accuse the state of causing divisions and disharmony in cultural institutions.

Regarding religious leaders, the opposition accused the president of employing tokenism to buy clerics’ support by giving them gifts such as cars and cash.

“The State also coordinated a degrading narrative meant to undermine religious leaders in order to derail the religious institutions and preclude them from taking port in shaping the political and democratic landscape of the country,” said Kiwanuka. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us



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