Various Civil Society Organisations in Uganda have condemned the recent “attack” on the Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) and other Non Government Organizations whose accounts were frozen by the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) on allegations of engaging in terrorism financing activities.
Their representatives, who converged in Ntinda, pointed out that this is a smear campaign aimed at undermining their credibility and deep commitment to improving the welfare of Ugandans.
Sarah Bireete, the Executive Director of Center for Constitutional Governance (CCG) described these allegations as baseless and unfounded.
“We strongly believe that nation building is a collective effort with each sector bringing their expertise and experience to the service of the nation. As a sector, we have complemented the efforts of government literally in all sectors wherever there is improvement to talk about,” Bireete said.
She noted that the freezing of the NGOs accounts does not only affect the organization but even all other people who benefit from the work and services of that organization.
Xavier Ejoyi, Country Director Action Aid Uganda said that no amount of intimidation and false accusations will deter them from playing their civic responsibilities provided for under Article 38(2) of the Constitution of Uganda.
“We call upon our religious leaders to step up and speak up against the apparent excesses of the regime and all political actors. Ugandans are engaged in a struggle for justice, rule of law, constitutionalism and equal opportunity. Maintaining silence or purporting to be neutral can only amount to acquiescence to the injustice at hand,” Ejoyi said.
In a letter dated 10th December 2020, the Financial Intelligence Authority wrote to the Director of Public Prosecution to take action against these NGOs.
Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) has since responded to this action stating that the accusations are false and this will only impair their good intention operations and services with various groups of people in Uganda.
“This action has and will continue to affect the operations of UWONET generally but more specifically activities that were on going for the benefit of our target groups especially women and girls of Uganda including the activities for the 16 days of activism to end Gender Based Violence,” reads a statement issued by Tezira Jamwa, UWONET chairperson.
The statement also indicates that UWONET’s election related work including working with women and youth from different parts of Uganda to enhance peace building during and after the elections, trainings in the remaining districts for women candidates including independents and those from all political parties and observation of women and gender issues in the elections has been severed.
“We are definitely saddened that our work as an umbrella organization for women’s organizing has currently been disabled bearing in mind the contribution that UWONET continues to make and has made in the last 27 years of her existence through working with different government institutions, women and youth groups, cultural and religious leaders, community members, academia, institutions of higher learning, and media,” Jamwa said.
Adding: “All these have aided our efforts on policy and legal advocacy, research on women’s rights and gender equality, knowledge and skills development and collective voicing in an effort to ensure that women and girls, who remain marginalized in our society attain their rightful opportunity and places in society.”
The bank accounts which were affected were in Stanbic Bank, Absa Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and KCB Bank.