On Thursday morning, Patrick Onen Ezaga, the Senior Communications officer of the NGO Bureau, said the operations of National Election Watch Uganda are illegal because it is not registered in the country.
Election Watch Uganda- NEW U is in trouble following the suspension of its
activities by the National Bureau for Non-Government Organizations.
NEW-U is a coalition of over 60 organizations that among
others observe electoral activities across the country. Some of the organisations include Uganda
Women Network, Center for Constitutional governance and Women’s Democracy
Network among others.
On Thursday morning, Patrick Onen Ezaga, the Senior
Communications officer of the NGO Bureau, said the operations of National Election Watch Uganda are
illegal because it is not registered in the country. Ezaga says that while it
is not wrong to form coalitions, they must be registered and monitored by
//Cue in: “From the foregoing…
Cue out: …legalizing their status”//
The coalition was launched on September 10th,
2020 a few days after the release of the results from their observation of the chaotic
National Resistance Movement –NRM primaries, which were marred with a number of
irregularities. Ezaga says that they learnt about the operations of the
coalition after their launch and sought to meet with them.
After the interaction, he says, they realized that the organization
wasn’t registered by the bureau, contrary to the NGO Act 2016. They also learned
that NEW-U had 65 organizations under it and not 60 as had been declared by the
leaders. Of these, 42 were registered and had update permits to operate, six
are registered and have permits but not updated, six are registered but with no
valid permits while 11 were not registered with the NGO Bureau.
The Bureau referred to NEW U as a loose coalition, which proceeded to commence
its operations without incorporation, registration and permission to operate
within the laws of Uganda. They condemned the NGO Forum for providing a
Secretariat to an illegal entity.
“It therefore lacks the legal authority/basis to transact any activity in its
own capacity since it would not be held liable for its actions,” said Ezaga. He added, whereas UNNGOF (NGO Forum) and some of the organizations, which are
valid were accredited by the Electoral Commission in their own right to be
Election Observers in the forthcoming national polls, there was no such
accreditation for NEW-U.
Ezaga cautioned NGOs that operate without
registration and updates permits to stop. Rita Aciro, the head of NEW-U has not yet commented as she couldn’t
be reached but our reporter by the time of filing this story. She did not pick
our calls nor respond to our email and SMS.
The Executive Director of NGO Forum,
Moses Isooba equally didn’t pick our calls.