In Uganda Religion is understood as the belief in the existence of a God or gods, and activities that are connected with the worship of them.
Religion deals with spiritual and moral aspects of a human being. It emphasises the universal values of human society. Faith is a strong belief in the doctrines of religion based on spiritual convictions rather than proof.
According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), Religion is defined as a system of thought, feeling, and action that is shared by a group of individuals.
For purposes of this policy, a Faith-based organization (FBO) refers to a religious grouping in which persons with a common religious belief, faiths, mission or spiritual values worship God together and this includes: a religious congregation (church, mosque, synagogue, or temple). It may be incorporated or not.
Uganda has enjoyed religious stability and diversity for the last 30 years.
Notwithstanding the stability, there have been elements of religious extremism inspired by both domestic and foreign influences. For example;
The Allied Democratic Force (ADF), formed by mainly disgruntled elements of the Tabliq sect joined forces with actors from Uganda’s deposed political regimes to form the Allied Democratic Force (ADF), a group that has been described by the United Nations as seeking to impose Sharia law across Uganda.
From 1998 to 2000, the ADF waged a series of attacks on Ugandan targets, including one in 1998 on a technical college where 80 students were burned alive. An offensive by the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) quelled the uprising and pushed ADF into eastern DRC, although the Ugandan government has attributed the killing of 12 Muslim clerics since 2012 to the ADF and recent attacks on border towns which caused 60,000 Congolese to flee into Uganda.
Another is the Al-Shabaab, this fundamentalist group has been operational in Uganda, conducting suicide bombings against crowds watching the 2010 World Cup finals that killed at least 74 people in the capital city of Kampala. The group was also planning a bombing that was eventually foiled in 2014.
The other sad sore in Uganda’s religious history is the Kanungu massacre where Rev. Father Kibwetere and his conspirators burnt hundreds of innocent faithful who had gathered in a church for worship. All these were killed in the name of religion.
There has been reported exploitation and manipulation of the faithful many reporting loss of colossal monies to their leaders in various religious organizations. All these have taken advantage of the scattered and unclear regulatory framework for RFBOs in Uganda.
According to Vision 2040 and National Development Plan (NDP II)
The Government of Uganda is committed to establishing a policy and legal framework that provides for a conducive and accountable environment for the operations of the RFBOs in the country.
Under Vision 2040, Ugandans aspire to have unity in diversity and equal opportunities irrespective of gender, tribe, ethnicity or religion.
In addition, Uganda is envisioned as a highly moral and ethical society whose citizens is strong in religious and spiritual values, and instilled with the highest of ethical standards. Ugandans should profess their customs, cultures and religious beliefs and yet, feeling that they belong to one nation.
The above is emphasized in NDPII where unity in diversity and equal opportunities irrespective of gender, tribe, ethnicity or religion is provided for. The plan intends to facilitate religious institutions to optimally utilize their land.
But according to the, Constitution of the Republic of Uganda
Article 29 (1) (b) provides that; “every person shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief which shall include academic freedom in institutions of learning.”
Article 29 (1) (C) provides: “Every person shall have the right to freedom to practice any religion and manifest such practice which shall include the right to belong to and participate in the practices of any religious body or organization in a manner consistent with the Constitution.”
Article 43 (1) provides for the general limitation on fundamental and other human rights and freedoms. It sates: “In the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms prescribed in this Chapter, no person shall prejudice the fundamental or other human rights and freedoms of others or the public interest”
What could have led to this policy
Article 29(1)(c) of the Constitution gives Ugandans the freedom to practice any religion and manifest such practice which shall include the right to belong to and participate in the practices of any religious body or organization in a manner consistent with the Constitution.
However, Government did not put in place a regulatory framework on how the freedom of worship should be exercised. As a result, members of the public are facing a lot of challenges from some Religious and Faith Based Organisations (RFBOs), including manipulation, exploitation of followers, loss of property, loss of lives, promotion of witchcraft, disunity among the faithful, increased rate of domestic violence, family breakdowns, instability in society, promotion of immorality, noise pollution among others. Furthermore, there is no mandatory centralized framework for the registration and monitoring of RFBOs.
The existing arrangements for RFBO registration fall under diverse and uncoordinated agencies and legislation. While some RFBOs register under the Trustees Incorporation Act with the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development; others register under the Companies Act with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau; yet others register under the Non-Governmental Organizations Act 2016 with the NGO Bureau. Others do not register at all, but simply set up a place of worship and begin ministering to congregations. There is no record of the number of RFBOs that exist in Uganda and what their spiritual mandate is. As a result, the State has no mechanism of vetting, monitoring and identifying the unethical faith practitioners in order to protect Ugandans from the harmful effects of unethical religious practices.
Office of the Prime Minister
The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in line with its Constitutional mandate under Article 108(A) is the overall coordinator of implementation of the all Government Policies across Ministries, Departments and other public institutions and will work closely with the Lead Ministry responsible for monitoring and overseeing the RFBO.
The Office of the President/ Directorate of Ethics and Integrity
The office of the President through the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity shall be the Lead Agency for monitoring and overseeing the operations of RFBOs in Uganda. DEI will host the RFBO Board and shall be represented on the Board. DEI will support the RFBO Board to build the institutional capacity required to carry out its mandated functions; and ensure effective supervision of the RFBO Board.
The Religious and Faith-based Organizations Board (The RFBO Board)
There shall be a Board appointed by the Minister responsible for Ethics and Integrity. The Board shall exercise the mandate for registration, regulation, monitoring and overseeing the activities of RFBOs. The Board will facilitate coordination, effective and efficient relations among stakeholders. The status and institutional capacity of the RFBO Board shall be strengthened appropriately to enable it to carry out its functions both at the national and district level.
In constituting the Board, effective, fair and equitable consideration of all RFBOs’ diverse needs, shall be seriously considered so as to ensure smooth relations between the Board and its various stakeholders.
The RFBO Board structure shall be reflected at the district level. The structures created shall perform in accordance with guidelines issued by the national RFBO Board to enable these authorities to carry out their mandated functions with respect to RFBOs effectively and in a harmonized manner.
The Board shall;
What does the public say?