Why registration of an NGO may be declined

Why an application for registration of an NGO in Uganda may be declined

The Bureau may refuse to register an organization for several reasons among them

  • Where the objectives of the organization as specified in its constitution contravene the law.
  • Where the application doe not comply with registration requirements.
  • Where the applicant has given false or misleading information in the application.

 

What is a an NGO?

What is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) in Uganda?

A Non Governmental Organization (NGO) in Uganda is a legally constituted organization that may be a private voluntary grouping of individuals or associations established to provide voluntary services to the community or any part thereof but not for profit or commercial purposes. An NGO must be registered by the National Bureau for Non Governmental Organisations in accordance with the law. Additionally, an NGO must have a permit issued by the Bureau which mandates it to operate in a given geographical area and to carry out activities specified in the permit.  It is illegal for an organization (NGO) to operate in Uganda with out a permit issued to it under the Act.

There are different categories of NGOs recognized in Uganda and these include;

  1. Community Based Organization (CBO). This is an organization operating at Sub County level and below, whose objectives is to promote and advance the wellbeing of members of the community.
  2. Indigenous organization. This is one that is wholly controlled by Ugandan citizens.
  3. Regional organization on the other hand is one is one incorporated in one or more of the Partner States of the East African Community and is partially or wholly controlled by citizens of one or more of the Partner States of the East African Community, and operating in Uganda under the authority of the permit issued by the Bureau.
  4. Continental organization. This is one that has its original incorporation in any African country, other than a Partner State of the East African Community and is wholly or partially controlled by citizens from such state and operating in Uganda under the authority of the permit issued by the Bureau.
  5. International organization. This is one that has its original incorporation in a country that is not one of the Partner States of the East African Community and is partially or wholly controlled by persons from one or more of such states and operating in Uganda under the authority of the permit issued by the Bureau.
  6. Foreign organization. This is one that does not have original incorporation in any country and is wholly or partially controlled by citizens of other countries that are not Partner states to the East African Community, and is operating under the authority of a permit issued by the Bureau.

Continuation of operation of organizations existing before the NGO 2016 Act in Uganda

All Non Governmental and community based organizations which existed immediately before the commencement of the 2016 Act, continue to be legally recognized as such. S. 59 of the Act saves these organizations and empowers them to continue operating as such.

Board of Directors of the National Bureau

The Board of Directors of the National Bureau for Non Governmental Organisations

The Bureau has a board of directors as its governing body, appointed by the minister with the approval of cabinet. The board is constituted of a chairperson, vice chair person, two representatives from the Non Governmental Organisations Sector and three other persons who must be citizens of Uganda, and of high moral character with proven integrity. The board has committees and sub committees that may be assigned functions for efficient performance of its functions.

The bureau also has management staff like the executive director, secretary and other staff. The Board members tenure is for only 3 years and are eligible for re election for another term.

Functions of the board include;

  • Overseeing implementation of the Bureau’s policies and programmes in the NGO sector.
  • Reviewing and approving strategic plans of the bureau.
  • Reviewing and approving annual plans and budget of the Bureau.
  • Approving annual reports and accounts of the Bureau.
  • Establishing and approving rules and procedures for proper financial management and accountability of the Bureau.
  • Determining and reviewing structure and staffing levels.
  • Appointing staff of the Bureau.
  • Establishing and approving rules and procedures for appointment, discipline, termination of services and general personnel matters.
  • Determining and reviewing terms and conditions of service of the staff of the bureau.
  • Etc

Remuneration of the Board members is by Ministry of finance. The board has powers to establish committees and sub committees and delegate them functions for efficient performance of the boards work. Members of these committees may be from within the board itself.

Staffing of an NGO

Staffing of an NGO and employment of non citizens in Uganda

The law requires every organization to;

  • Submit to the Bureau a chart showing its organizational structure at the time of applying for registration.
  • Indicating its foreign staff requirements
  • The period for replacement of foreign staff with qualified Ugandans.
  • Comply with Ugandan employment and labour laws.
  • Not employ a non citizen unless that person has been cleared by the Government of Uganda.

The process of clearance requires the organization to forward to the Uganda government through the Ugandan Diplomatic Mission in that country the following for consideration of their suitability to work in Uganda;

  • Certified details of his or her certificates,
  • credentials,
  • recommendations,
  • proven work experience,
  • Certificate of criminal clearance.

(For purposes of use across country such documents must be notarized).

  • An NGO shall not practice salary discrimination between Ugandans and non nationals.

Special obligations of an NGO

Special obligations of an NGO operating in Uganda

Section 44 outlines the special obligations of NGO that an organization shall;-

  1. Not carry out activities in any part of the country unless it has received the approval of the DNMCs and Local Government of that area and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Local Government to that effect.
  2. Not extend its operations to any new areas beyond the area it is permitted to operate unless it has received a recommendation from the Bureau through the DNMC.
  3. Co-operate with local councils in its area and the relevant DNMC and SNMC.
  4. Not engage in any act which is prejudicial to the security and laws of Uganda.
  5. Restrict its operations to the area in which it is permitted to operate under the permit.
  6. Not engage in any act which is prejudicial to the interests of Uganda and the dignity of the people of Uganda.
  7. Be non partisan and shall not engage in fundraising or campaigning to support of oppose any political party or support or propose to register a candidate for a political office.
  8. Have a memorandum of understanding with its donors, sponsors, affiliates, local or foreign partners specifying the terms and conditions of ownership, employment, resource mobilization for the organization.

Self regulatory body for NGOs

Self regulatory body for NGOs in Uganda

The Act allows NGOs to from a self regulatory body for purposes of exercising regulatory authority over them. Two or more organizations may come together and form a self regulatory body which must be registered with the Bureau. The organizations must agree that the body will regulate them and that they will abide by a set code of conduct, rules and procedures.

Registration with the Bureau is by way of application accompanied by a resolution of each of the organizations forming part of the body stating its willingness to be part of the self regulatory body and a code of conduct of the body. The code of conduct is adopted by a special meeting of the body. The body also has the liberty to adopt its own structure, rules, procedure for efficient administration. The body may also adopt self regulatory mechanisms that include rules, standards to govern the organizations.

Revocation of the permit

Revocation of the permit to operate an NGO by the Bureau

The Bureau has powers to revoke the permit to operate an NGO where the organization does not operate in accordance with its constitution; or where the organization contravenes any of the conditions or directions specified in the permit.

Before the permit is revoked the Bureau must notify the permit holder and ask such permit holder to show cause why the permit should not be revoked. Where the Bureau revokes the permit, it must notify the permit holder and state the reasons for revoking the same. A permit holder whose permit has been revoked has the option to re apply.

Renewal of the permit

An organization is required to apply for renewal of the permit within 6 months before the expiry of the same. The Bureau may renew the same upon being satisfied that the organization has complied with the requirements (conditions and directions) in the previous permit.

It is also an offence for an NGO to operate without a valid permit s. 32 (6). The law requires that where an NGO’s permit expires and such NGO continues to operate without renewing the same, it is an offence that attracts pecuniary sanctions of a fine.

Regulatory frame for NGOs

Regulatory frame work and regulatory body for NGO’s in Uganda?

  • Regulatory Framework

Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are regulated by a legal regime of namely;

  1. The Non Governmental Organizations Act 2016. This is the principal legislation on NGO’s in Uganda. The Act was recently passed by parliament and assented to by the president on 30th Jan 2016. S. 56(1) repealed and replaced the Non Governmental Organizations Act Cap 113.
  2. The Non Governmental Organizations Regulations SI NO 19/2009. These Regulations are saved under s.56 (2) of the 2016 Act which provided inter alia that the regulations shall remain in force in so far as they are consistent with the Act until expressly revoked by statutory instrument under the Act. The regulations provide for the procedure of implementing the parent Act.
  • Regulatory body

National Bureau for Non Governmental Organisations

The 2016 Act creates the National Bureau for Non Governmental Organisations as a body responsible for regulating the operations of NGOs in Uganda. The Bureau which is a new creature introduced by the Act replaced the Non Governmental Organizations Registration Board for all intents and purposes.

Section 57 vested all rights and obligations of the Board into the Bureau, (including property, assets, money on board account, contracts, agreements, undertakings, securities, any proceedings etc) and former employees of the board continued in office as employees of the bureau on similar terms and conditions.

This bureau is established as body corporate with perpetual succession, common seal, power to sue and to be sued, purchase and hold property, enter into contracts and to do all lawful things a corporate body is capable of doing. The Bureau also has branch offices at every district.

Registration of Non Governmental Organisations in Uganda

Registration of Non Governmental Organisations in Uganda

Applications are made to the National Bureau of Non Governmental Organisations.

This application form is addressed to the Secretary of the Bureau and contains the following;

  • Name of the Organization.
  • Country of origin.
  • Proposed physical address.
  • Particulars of any affiliated organization whether within or outside Uganda.
  • Objects of the organization.
  • Classes of persons to whom the organization is open.
  • Present number of members.
  • Tittles of officers of the organization.
  • Names, occupations and addresses of present or proposed officers of the organization.
  • Sources of funding.
  • Property (if any) and the manner in which it is held, acquired, or vested.
  • Bankers of the organization.
  • Any privileges, immunities or exemptions requested by the organization from government.
  • Names, signatures and passport size photographs of the promoters.
  • The form must be dated.

This form must be accompanied by

  1. A certificate of incorporation (this applies where the organization is an already legally registered entity e.g. a company limited by guarantee).
  2. A copy of the organization’s constitution.
  3. A specification of the area of intended operation of the organization i.e. the geographical area, field of operation e.g. health, education, gender and sexuality, etc
  4. A valid reservation of the organization’s name by the registrar of companies.
  5. A chart showing the organizational structure of the organization.
  6. A work plan and budget for the 1st year of operation.
  7. Payment receipts for registration fees.
  8. For local / indigenous organizations (NGOs wholly controlled by Ugandan citizens),they must additionally have ;
  • A written recommendation to the Bureau by two sureties.
  • A written recommendation by the Senior Assistant Secretary (chairperson) of the SNMC of the area where the organization intends to operate.
  • A written recommendation by the RDC.
  • Where the organization intends to operate through out Uganda, a written recommendation by at least two of the above.

Upon compliance with the above requirements, the Bureau then registers the Organization and is issued a certificate of registration as NGO with a registration Name, Number and date.

Once an organization is registered, it remains so registered unless its registration is cancelled, voluntary deregistered or if it is wound up.