By AFTABOSS Moderator,
It has come to our concern that even the very people that we speak for on the Media (internet), at the peace venues, in forums, etc. are assessing us (activists or Civil Society in general) using the terms of the government. This brings us to the quote by one philosopher, Konstantin Josef Jerecek.
“We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, with so little, for so long that we are now qualified to do anything with nothing. This is our creed, the Hustler’s creed”.
Our situation with our political authorities is also summed up in the following African proverb.
“If a haeyena wants to eat her young ones, she begins to accused them of smelling goats!”
This villification of the voices of the peoptke by those who assume to have the absolute rights over the lives of our people is to be resisted by all means available at our discretion.
While in support and solidarity with our colleagues in the region and on the continent, we feel our concerns in South Sudan are the same in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chat, CAR, and DR Congo. Therefore, our Ugandan counterparts have spoken for all of us this time. Here is there reaction, which speaks for us all.
(Meanwhile the screenshot is our South Sudan Civil Society Forum (SSCSF) response on similar accusations early this year.
STOP THE DIVERSION! OWN UP TO MISDEEDS OF TORTURE
(Civil Society in Uganda Reject Government Accusation of funding protests)
*September 7, 2018*
*Unsubstantiated claims by Government*
As members working in and associated with civil society fraternity in Uganda, we are appalled by the recent statement by the President of the Republic of Uganda and his Government Ministers referring to Non-Governmental Organizations and Civil Society in general as hooligans and agents of “foreign interests”. The same accusations have been made by the Minister of Security at a recent media conference adding that NGOs were involved in funding demonstrations across the country.
Subsequently, several representatives working with the government have variously made outlandish and outrageous statements to the effect that NGOs are agents of imperialists and advance an imperialist agenda. More recently, at a Regional Conference on Advancing Civic Space and Democratic Accountability in Shrinking Environments in East Africa, when tasked to respond to these statements, the Minister of State for East African Affairs indicated they were investigating some NGOs.
*Our Duty and Commitment*
We would like to remind government and its leaders that as citizens of this country, we have a right and responsibility to engage in activities to influence public policy and governance processes, including through peaceful demonstrations. This right is guaranteed and protected Under Articles 29 and 38 (2) of the Constitutional of the Republic of Uganda and under various international instruments to which Uganda is a signatory.
We offer no apologies for participating in such activities as citizens of this country and for working towards a Uganda of equal opportunity and shared prosperity. We therefore find the suggestion that Ugandans need to be funded before they can express themselves is not only an insult but also a lame attempt at diverting Ugandans from the major issues that affect this country today. No one needs funding to speak against police brutality of their brothers, sisters, mothers, brothers and children. No one needs foreign funding to speak against corruption and wanton theft, no one needs foreign funding to choose to association with a political persuasion and no one needs foreign funding to defend our constitution or journalists beaten on Uganda’s streets. As citizens we shall unapologetically continue to speak against all these vices.
The assertion that, because NGOs receive funding from donors to finance their interventions, in some way makes them agents of foreign interests as not only disingenuous but also dishonest. We all know that the Government of Uganda receives support of about 40% of the total development expenditure from external sources with as high a dependency as 85% for certain critical sectors. More so, our government operates a myriad of embassies and diplomatic missions in foreign capitals in the West and one would ask for what reasons! If we were to follow the illogical claims by some officials from government, one would conclude that our own government is an agent of foreign interests.
*The real issues government must own up and address*
The growing dissent expressed by Ugandans singly or collectively are in part a result of failure of government to address critical issues affecting majority of people: unemployment, poor service delivery, inequality, rising insecurity and wanton theft of public funds, which some call corruption.
More recently, invasion of parliament by armed forces, the brutal way members of parliament were attacked and tortured with some still decapacitated and hospitalized – Hon Zake, Hon Namboze and Hon Kyagulanyi, and many more in our local hospitals and not even supported by the government. Government must own up to its responsibility, including the fueling of electoral violence rather than indulge itself in a cover-up!
When citizens have raised their voice on these matters, they are accused of being foreign agents or being in the opposition as if being in the opposition is a crime. Many citizens have been brutalized by security forces, several have died, others have disappeared or been detained unlawfully. The recent cases in the post-Arua Municipality elections are just part of a trend that has been going on for years.
Instead of reprimanding brutal agents of the security, we have seen them being praised for maiming or killing Ugandans. We have heard the president and his ministers downplaying torture and claiming it never happened, not ashamed to even refer to government’s anti-torture laws, they are expected to defend rather than abuse.
*Our Expectations of government*
As law abiding citizens, tax payers and people with a stake in the future of this country, we expect nothing less than an apology from government to torture victims those affected by the brutality of the security forces. We also expect and demand that the president ensures that the security forces desist from using violence against people, especially those who express divergent views. Under no circumstances should our security agencies subject the citizens of this country to torture, it’s a heinous crime totally unacceptable in a civilized world.
Further instead of issuing threats of closure of NGOs and freezing their bank accounts, government should release the report of previous barbaric sieges of NGO offices, return confiscated property, including laptops, phones and organisational documents. And if the government and its leaders, including the president cannot substantiate their allegations against NGOs, we call upon the public to consider these utterances as diversions and propaganda, and treat them with the contempt they deserve.
Lastly, as citizens’ organizations and Ugandans working to improve our own welfare and that of others, we remain resolute in practicing and defending democratic principles, including of association, assembly and free expression and will continue to engage in activities to balance the power between state and citizens, and to check state excesses.
We extend an open invitation to government for an inclusive national dialogue about the many social, economic and political ills in our country. This is the sensible way forward for Uganda.
*End of Statement*
*Subscribed to by the following Organizations who were able to respond in time:*
The Uganda National NGO Forum
Public Affairs Center, Soroti
Centre for Constitutional Governance, Kampala
Western Ankole Civil Society Forum, Ankole
Akina Mama wa Afrika
*And supported by the following in their individual capacity:*
Arthur Larok / Job Kijja / Andrew Karamagi