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Clerics advise donors on how to channel aid

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By AL-MAHDI SSENKABIRWA

Posted  Thursday, November 15  2012 at  02:00
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KAMPALA

Religious leaders have pleaded with donors not to cut aid to Uganda but rather channel it through faith-based and civil society organisations that deal directly with the beneficiaries.

Addressing an impromptu press conference in Kampala on Monday, Mr Joshua Kitakule, the secretary general of Inter Religious Council of Uganda, said cutting aid was not a remedy as it will impact negatively on the lives of the beneficiaries.

The poor people, he said, never took part in swindling of funds meant for post-war recovery in northern Uganda and Karamoja. “We believe that there are good organisations that have passed the test of time and can ably account for funds. Let our donors reconsider their decision and try to identify such organisations,” he said.

IRCU is a grouping of religious denominations including; Uganda Episcopal Conference –representing the Catholic Church, Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, Church of Uganda, Orthodox Church, Seventh Day Adventist Church and Pentecostal Movement.

The organisation is currently running a five-year HIV/Aids programme which is supported by USAID at the tune of $30million. It has since 2001 supported faith-based organisations in the areas of HIV prevention, care & treatment and supporting orphans and vulnerable children.

Cut aid
This call comes days after key donor countries including Norway and Sweden, Ireland, the UK and Denmark announced that they were withholding billions in foreign aid to Uganda over the massive funds theft scandal that has rocked the Office of the Prime Minister.

Donors based their decision on the latest Auditor General’s report that details widespread irregularities and fraud involving some NOK75 million (Shs33.6b). Of this, NOK27 million (Shs12.1b) of the funding provided by Norway has been misused.

In a joint statement read by Sheikh Ali Waiswa, the acting chairman of IRCU, the clerics took a swipe at government accusing it of “pampering” officials implicated in corruption scandals.

“We have written and spoken severally against corruption over the years but our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. The president and all people in leadership of our country must demonstrate unquestionable and sufficient commitment in the fight against corruption,” he said.

President Museveni recently suggested that he needed time to consult before interdicting Mr Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary at OPM, who is at the centre of the controversy. Sheikh Waiswa said Uganda needs to borrow a leaf from other African countries such as Rwanda and Ghana where the commitment of top leadership has turned corruption into a very risky venture.

assenkabirwa@ug.nationmedia.com