By UG Reports
SOROTI: As the Non-Government Organization operating space continues to look dimmer with continuous political interference, Public Affairs Center (PAC) Uganda is bracing itself to ride out the storm.
Speaking during a two days evaluation meeting of its corporate strategic plan for the last ten years, held in North East Villa Country Resort Kumi district this week, Benson Ekwe the Executive Director PAC explains that the context has changed and the operating space for advocacy has been squeezed and so there is need to refocus on creating a peaceful and democratic governance that works for people.
“The situation has changed, you can now see in Uganda the type of politics we have is driven by pressure groups like the people power group, the M.K team and new laws coming up so ours is to focus and strengthen our resilience in order to remain relevant to people of Uganda” says Ekwe .
Ekwe also notes that while managing the challenges presented by government own erratic action, like raiding of their offices, arrests and sudden closure of NGO accounts they also had to deal with internal NGO politics of some partners who thought they were fighting the government.
“We work like doctors, why does a doctor concentrate on identifying only sickness not whether you went to your garden, because ours is promotion of transparency and accountability in public management, so we have to bring out the gaps and ensure that leaders address them not that we are opposition” he says.
He adds that despite working under tough pressures and a challenging political environment, PAC Uganda in the last ten years managed to register great success in the areas of human rights, good governance and raising issues of marginalized groups.
“You remember the marginalized and forgotten people of Tisai Island, we have been able to campaign remembrance and government response on the status of people and now they have a different story. We also have expanded our programs to cover districts beyond Teso including in Karamoja sub region” explains Ekwe.
Ekwe further explained that PAC’s high level of resilience and collaborative partnerships with organisations such as Oxfam, NGO Forum, Action Aid, government among others and media has empowered the local community to fight corruption.
PAC project Officer, Julius Arugu notes that PAC has changed the mind-set of people of Teso and beyond on issues of governance and democracy.
“You realize that we have trained a number of artists and local communities through civic education to interest themselves in fighting corruption and demanding accountability from their leaders now we see many politicians using artists to compose songs for them,” said Julius.
For his part as Chairperson local Council three of Ongino Sub county in Kumi district, which is one of the model sub counties for PAC operation, Charles Aisu expressed his happiness to PAC for the good work of building the capacity of local government leaders on their role to providing good service delivery to their people.
“Initially I didn’t know what they were doing but when I started working with them, I understood how they operate and I must commend PAC and local government for striving at good service delivery for common people down there and empowering the communities to ask us the leaders what we are supposed to do because it’s a good reminder to us leaders” says Aisu
He however observed that PAC and other NGOs working with government should not only dwell on the loopholes of government but also highlight on the achievements of local government and once in a while award the best performing leaders to give them motivation.
In 2008 ,PAC Uganda adopted a corporate strategy built around deepening democracy , civic empowerment and civil society solidarity, human rights and social justice, policy research and engagement, strong local governments, leadership and service delivery as well as promotion and accountability in public management which has seen great success in improving governance in Uganda. In the pursuit of remaining relevant and a people centered advocacy organization, PAC looks forward to launching a new strategic plan in August this year.
Additional reporting by Peter Akugizibwe Araali and Carolyne Adwoko
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