The State Minister for Ethics and Integrity Rose Lilly Akello has revealed that government has reawakened plans to have a Religious and Faith Organizations (RFOs) policy in the country.
In 2017, government through the directorate of ethics and integrity in the office of the president under the leadership of the late Rev Fr. Simon Lokodo embarked on the development of a national policy on religious and faith-based organisations to foster a more healthy relationship with government and other stakeholders.
Government said then that the policy was not intended to stifle but to address the significant disharmony within various religious and faith-based organizations but the same was received with mixed reactions.
It was however shelved towards the 2021 general election.
Speaking during an engagement meeting with religious leaders from the Greater North Anglican Church at West Lango Diocese offices in Apac district on Friday Minister Akello said it will be a separate framework that will promote coordination of the spiritual activities of faith based organizations in the country.
“There is currently lack of a clear policy framework for registration and coordination between government and religious and faith organisations. There is need for a comprehensive and clear framework on how government can engage and promote RFOs for nation development,”Akello said.
“This policy by then my predecessor was handling it before I came to the ministry but you know that time when the policy was brought, that was the time for politics. So we had to shelve it a bit and when we joined, it was time for Covid19 but now we are here we are back. There is nobody who doesn’t see that the moral decadency in Uganda is coming too much, in our homes even in the societies, the communities and even at our places of work.”
The Ethics and Integrity Minister said government will collect views from people around the country about the legislation.
“We are going to move across the whole country collecting people’s views and then take it to cabinet, that will bring it to parliament because we want all Ugandans to own this policy ant it for the betterment of all the Ugandans and the future generation.”
During the meeting, the minister and the religious leaders from Northern Uganda discussed the forthcoming Janan Luwum day celebrations.
The men of God reawakened calls to government and other stakeholders to develop St Paul’s Church of Uganda in Wii-Gweng village, Mucwin Subcounty, in Kitgum District, the place where former Archbishop Janani Luwum was buried, into a pilgrimage site.
The Anglican Church Bishop of Diocese of Lango Prof Alfred Olowa who led the team said the development of the site this will further promote religious tourism in the region like it happens at both shrines in Namugongo.
“President Museveni in 2015 declared February, 16 as a national holiday for St Janan Luwum. This is an opportunity to reflect on the life of St Janan Luwum and strive to bring positive change in our lives and the lives of those around us. It is high time this burial ground is developed into a pilgrimage site,” Olowa said.
The Bishops also challenged government over plans to close down core Primary Teaching Colleges (PTCs) across the country including Canon Lawrence PTC where St Janan Lumum studied that they said is an icon of international recognition.
“ I support government’s plan to redevelop the education and for being able to phase out certain PTCs but Canon Lawrence cannot be phased out. Unfortunately it has been phased out and no one is coming out clear enough to tell us that it will be retained. Arch Bishop Janan Luwum studied in this PTC and is an icon of international recognition by the worldwide Anglican Church,”Olowa said.
“Back home here, President Museveni supports Janan Luwum’s cause for the faith for which he was killed, and so he declared through Parliament that every February,16 is remembered as a public holiday. How come the history of his life and the school where he studied is closed? I think we are not thinking right.”
He urged government to reconsider the decision and retain the PTCs, noting it is important for the future of the country.
Minister Akello urged the men of God to work as a team with government not only for commemoration of national religious days but also on national development agenda such as the inculcation of morals, fight against corruption, holding public officers accountable towards service delivery among others.
“I would like to remind you that under National Development Plan III, as religious leaders, you have a big role in mobilizing communities for development,”Akello said.