The Jubilee (UhuRuto) Coalition manifesto contains a section entitled “Good Governance” which strikingly in a country with so many governance challenges, contains only one section, on “the challenge” of “managing our relationship” with civil society:
The influence of Civil Society has expanded over the years to the point where the various Civil Society groups play an important role in the country’s political and economic development. In the years following the signing of the National Accord, the sector has grown in stature, influencing government decisions, political culture, and key appointments. We must identify new and innovative ways of working with the sector so that the country can fully benefit from its expertise and experience.
We believe that NGOs have a valuable role to play in monitoring government and helping to strengthen the social infrastructure in our country. We shall manage our relationship with the NGO sector in accordance with internationally recognized best practices.
The Coalition government will:
- Introduce a Charities Act to regulate political campaigning by NGOs, to ensure that they only campaign on issues that promote their core remit and do not engage in party politics. This will also establish full transparency in funding both for NGOs and individual projects.
- Establish a Charities Agency to provide an annual budgetary allocation to the NGO sector.
- Promote accountability and coordination between the NGO sector and national and county governments.
- Develop strong partnership with the NGO sector that enhances the country’s development agenda and promotes the interests of the people of Kenya.
So what does this mean? Clearly, what is proposed is substantial “regulation” and government involvement in the workings of civil society. This was understood by many in civil society before the election to refer to “Ethiopian” style control–you could also look at Rwanda and Uganda for other regimes in the EAC.
Since the election, we have seen some nasty, conspiratorialist, attacks on civil society for not getting in line with the IEBC’s announced result. See “Kenyans fundamental rights under attack” from Mugambi Kiai in the Nation, responding.
- Uhuru’s presidency; a moment for the civil society reboot (sakunian.wordpress.com)
- Amidst the chaos, a really bad NGO law is about to be enacted (dailynewsegypt.com)
- Egypt quietly stifles NGOs by cutting off foreign cash flow (csmonitor.com)
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