Members of Parliament Return NGO Oversight to Internal Affairs

Legislators have abolished the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Board, reverting its authority over NGOs’ operations to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This decision was made during the parliamentary session on Tuesday, 23 April 2024, when the NGO (Amendment) Bill, 2024 was approved.

Chairing the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs, Hon. Wilson Kajwengye emphasized that the Ministry could effectively carry out the functions previously assigned to the National Bureau of NGOs, as it did in 2016 before the establishment of the Board.

The amendment integrates the Bureau into the Ministry of Internal Affairs as a department, aligning with the government’s strategy to streamline administrative bodies. The revised legislation replaces the NGO Board with a Bureau led by a Secretary accountable to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry.

The Secretary will oversee the Bureau’s daily operations, manage its finances, and administer its assets. Kajwengye argued that dismantling the Board would prevent the government from accruing annual debts of up to Shs1.1 billion, associated with sustaining the NGO Board and Adjudication committee.

“The revenues generated from NGO registration will now be incorporated into the Ministry,” Kajwengye added.

 Conversely, Hon. Asuman Basalirwa (JEEMA, Bugiri Municipality) criticized the National Bureau of NGOs, citing bureaucratic hurdles in NGO license renewals. “Accessing information or renewing licenses through the NGO Board is excessively challenging, making even basic tasks cumbersome. I doubt its necessity,” Basalirwa remarked.

However, Hon. Dononzio Kahonda (NRM, Ruhinda South County) opposed the Committee’s stance, asserting that the Board had improved NGO registration, monitoring, and inspection processes. He highlighted the substantial annual contributions, estimated at a minimum of Shs4.5 trillion, from registered NGOs and CBOs in Uganda.

“It is the minority’s contention that integrating the Bureau as a department will deprive the country of the specialized expertise needed to oversee the intricate and evolving NGO sector,” Kahonda stated.

Supporting the minority viewpoint, Hon. Christine Kaaya, Kiboga District Woman MP, warned of the repercussions of dissolving the Board, particularly on NGO inspections and monitoring.

“Disbanding the Board will pose significant challenges as NGOs rely on donors who demand timely responses. We recognize their contributions in fundraising for the nation,” she emphasized.