Civil society warning over Public Bill

Written by Adow Mohammed on .

Civil society groups have issued a seven-day ultimatum for the government to withdraw the proposed "malicious" Public Benefits Organization Amendment Act 2013 failure to which they will organise sit-ins at government offices and go on hunger strike.

Under the proposed Article 27 A(1) "Any funding of a Public Benefits Organisation shall be made through the federation and not by individual member organisation".

Speaking during a press conference in Nairobi yesterday, the President of the National Association of Human Rights, Ken Wafula termed the amendments contained in the Miscellaneous Amendments Bill 2013, published on October 30 as “illogical”.

"It is not possible for an organisation to write concepts and proposals, secure funding for their projects and then surrender the money to a third party which has no idea what the project is all about. This is an inverted logic," he said.

Section Section 27 A(2) further states: “A public benefit organization shall not receive more than 15 per cent of its total funding from external donors.”

"Do we really have local sources for funding in Kenya. Where will the NGOs get the remaining 85 per cent of their budgets?" Wafula said.

The groups also threatened to organise a parallel fete during Jamhuri Day celebrations at Uhuru Park “to protest the apparent return of dictatorship after 50 years of shame and suffering”. "Kenya @ 50 is continuously becoming like Kenya @ 1," Wafula said.

He said civil societies were not consulted over the proposed Act."We demand that any future review of laws relating to NGOs be done within the framework of the National Policy on NGOs," Wafula said.

He said civil society are concerned with attempts by government and the National Assembly to “reverse” democratic gains achieved under the new constitution. "Why does the government want to curtail all the democratic gains made since independence. What are they afraid of?"Wafula said.

Jacob Ngumi, the CEO of the NGO Council, said they will pursue judicial redress to reject a scheme, he alleged is aimed at financially crippling civil societies for their stand on the ongoing ICC cases at the Hague.

He accused Devolution Secretary Ann Waiguru of “sneaking in” the controversial clauses with the bid to control civil society organisations.

"There are attempts to muzzle the critical voices that keep the government in check. This is a retrogressive Bill that must not be allowed to go through," he said. He said more than 300,000 jobs are at risk if the National Assembly passed the bill as it is currently constituted.

This article was from The Star: