Governance and accountability

The Unwanted Witness Uganda is currently undertaking campaigns aimed at influencing democratic governance and increased demand for accountability.

After decades of internal strife, Uganda has experienced more than 20 years of relative political stability and economic growth which had been anticipated would usher the country to the road of prosperity.

This coupled with witnessed poor leadership; as a result development has eluded the country. This poor leadership has become the champion of a number of corruption related scandals that have left the public coffers emptier than had been. This has grown steadily under the watchful eye of the ruling NRM government without much, if any, effort done to curb the social ill and the runaway trends of corruption. Thousands of billions if not trillions of both shillings and dollars have continued to escape the national coffers unabated. While all this happens, citizens are not informed and unconcerned or are unconscious of their duties in influencing the leadership and enforcing the social contract to have their voices heard and influence decision making especially democratic governance.

Democratic governance is about an established relationship between the state and the citizens. A basic requirement for such a relationship is an informed citizenry which relies on media and other communication platforms to receive information from the state and engage in communication passing on their views and opinions. Through the media, citizens are informed of their leader’s actions and performance. Unwanted Witness thus seeks to create such platforms where citizens demand for accountability and influence democratic governance.

With a constitution that had in the beginning provided a point of rally by especially opposition parties to uphold fundamental rights and freedoms, it has since been subjected to regular and vigorous amendments through actions deemed inappropriate to the spirit of constitutionalism. Whereas Uganda’s constitution provides for freedom of speech, religion, and movement, Press and civil society enjoy relative freedom seems not to exist anymore with the limitations on CSOs operating environment through the NGO legislationand limitation of freedoms through draconian laws.

The government through its various militaristic security agencies sometimes uses charges of unlawful assembly, inciting violence, and promoting sectarianism to curtail government critics’ freedoms of especially of speech and assembly. This has greatly affected political pluralism and democratic governance in Uganda. In April and May 2011, the government’s heavy-handed crackdown on peaceful opposition “walk-to-work” protests led to at least 10 deaths, numerous injuries, and hundreds of arrests, including of prominent opposition leaders. This is due to especially of the continued existence and entrenchment of ineffective and poor leadership which has for a long time been the brand of the current government existence especially in ensuring that free speech is filtered and mainstream media practices self censorship. This coupled with the enactment of various laws and policies aimed at stifling free expression and access to discussion platforms to demand for accountability and good governance, has created a situation that needs to urgently be addressed by engaging citizens to demand and influence the democratic governance in Uganda.

Since the September 2009 protests dubbed by police as riots and the protests under the walk to work campaigns, there has been a tendency by the government through its agencies to exercise high handed control over any initiatives that tend to demand for accountability and good governance. This includes initiatives established under the Black Monday Movement that seeks to demand for accountability and good governance. Many actors have suffered under the high handedness of the police with many being beaten with impunity. Many are facing a number of criminal charges and have suffered inhuman treatment at the hands of police.

Hence Unwanted Witness endeavors to provide platforms for actors and citizens as a whole that will provide avenues to demand for accountability and influence good governance.