Kabarole. Religious leaders in the Rwenzori sub-region have backed the formulation of a national policy on faith-based organisations.
The policy among others seeks to regulate their activities and bring harmony between them and the state.
It is being drafted by the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity in the Office of the President.
Some of the key issues in the proposed policy include, creating and empowering the department for Religious Affairs to vet and recommend the registration of religious organisations, establishment of a data management system, regulation as well as establishment of a collaboration between government and faith based organisations to implement government programmes.
During a consultative meeting in Fort Portal Town on Tuesday, clerics from the Rwenzori sub region supported the policy saying it was long overdue.
Sheikh Nasid Musenene, the general secretary Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, Kasese District said, “The policy will address issues affecting the different faiths such as mushrooming of churches, fraudsters, corruption and other criminal activities”
Bishop Tom Kiiza of the Evangelical Orthodox Church of Uganda said, “Regulating the activities of faith based organisations will help prevent incidents like the Kanungu inferno and also bring unity between the different religions in the country”.
The South Ruwenzori Diocese (COU) Bishop Jackson Nzerebende said the policy will ensure that all the activities of the religions and faith based organisations especially provision of social services are monitored to avoid duplication of work.
Bishop Nziberende said, “Through the policy, faith based organisations will also be able to evaluate their services if they have any impact on the community”.
However, other participants argued that it is better to have a self regulating body among themselves other than government and urged the directorate to consult widely before this policy is formulated.
Currently, there is no frame work for registering activities of churches because under the Non-Government Organisations (NGO) Act, faith based activities cannot be registered as NGO activities since they are involved in different kind of work.
After consultations on the national policy, the proposals will be debated by Cabinet and thereafter presented to Parliament. However, State Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Rev father Simon Lokodo revealed that similar consultative meetings have been held in four other regions.