Government writes to DGF contributors confirming suspension

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Finance, Planning and Economic Development Minister, Matia Kasaija. (Courtesy photo).

Government through the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has officially written to the Ambassador of the Royal Danish Embassy about the suspension of the European Union (EU)-supported Democratic Governance Facility (DGF).

The Royal Danish Embassy in Uganda is the delegated manager of the EU’s contrinution programme.

In his February 17, 2021 letter to the ambassador, Finance, Planning and Economic Development Minister, Matia Kasaija said: “Following an internal review of the various aspects of the programme including its implementation modalities; and having noted that certain approval processes were not followed prior to the adoption of the programme, the Government of Uganda has, in accordance with Section 10 of the aforesaid Memorandum of Understanding, decided to wholly suspend the implementation of the programme, pending further engagement between itself and the different contributors.”

The letter is copied to the President of the Republic of Uganda, Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister, Attorney General, Head of Public Service and the Secretary to the treasury and the envoys of contributing countries including those from Denmark, Austria, Sweden, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, and the European Union.

Mr Kasaija’s letter comes after President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Tibuhaburwa ordered the Ministry of Finance to suspend all activities of the DGF for allegedly financing subversive activities in the country.

DGF was launched in 2011 as a five-year programme to support government and non-governmental groups working to promote human rights, deepen democracy and improve accountability.

Letter to the Ambassador Royal Danish Embassy.

Background

In a January 2, 2021 letter, Mr Museveni said: “The foreign mission and its co-founders have been given free rein by the Ministry of Finance to choose which activity, entities and amounts to finance without the knowledge or consent of the Government. A big percentage of these funds have been used to finance activities and organisations designed to subvert Government under the guise of improving governance”.

In the letter, Mr Museveni observed that the Ministry of Finance under the hand of the Permanent Secretary, irregularly and unilaterally authorised a £100m fund known as the Democratic Governance Facility, to be operated exclusively by a foreign mission in Uganda.

The president added that unlike prior grant arrangements like the Democratic Governance and Accountability project in which there was transparency and representations the Government of “Uganda has no say or oversight on how the Democratic Governance Facility is administered in Uganda.”

Mr Museveni subsequently tasked Mr Kasaija to explain how and why the Permanent Secretary, Keith Muhakanizi, authorised the operations of DGF without the involvement of Cabinet and tasked the Inspectorate of Government, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), and the Statehouse Anti-Corruption Unit to investigate Mr Muhakanizi and other government officials over possible subversion, corruption and or criminal negligence.

“I have also established that last year, the Ministry of Finance made a belated and feeble attempt to get a Government Representative on the Board of this fund which would have been of little consequence anyway. However, you were quickly and arrogantly rebuffed by the foreign mission because apparently as you were reminded by that foreign mission, the exclusive management of the fund lies with them and oversight is by the foreign co-founders, exclusively,” Mr Museveni said.

“I am, therefore, directing you to immediately, suspend the activities of this fund until the Cabinet has fully reviewed this matter and a new governance structure in which the elected representatives of the people of Uganda have appropriate oversight, has been put in place and approved by me,” Mr Museveni said.

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