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NGOs breathe fire over foreign funding cap

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The law seeks to cap the amount of foreign funds NGOs can get to 15 percent of their budget/XINHUA-File

The law seeks to cap the amount of foreign funds NGOs can get to 15 percent of their budget/XINHUA-File

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 9 – The Government is set on a collision course with civil society and Non-Governmental Organisations in the country over a proposed new law regulating the flow of foreign funds.

The Miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2013, published on October 30, seeks to cap the amount of foreign funds NGOs can get to 15 percent of their budget.

NGO representatives meeting under the banner of the CBO Reference Group accused Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru of allegedly sneaking in the controversial clauses with the aim of controlling the civil society and the youth council.

Suba Churchill and Sheikh Ahmed Ramadhan who spoke on behalf of the group argued the law would sound a death knell to the country’s vibrant civil society.

“The court option is one of them but we will also resort to what we are known for, we are so good at mobilizing the public… nobody beats us when it comes to mass action. So we will resort to all those actions to ensure that this bill doesn’t become law,” he said.

In the new Bill which NGOs have already interpreted as aimed at clamping down on their activities, they will not get more than the 15 percent of their budget from foreign countries if they demonstrate extraordinary circumstance why they require the funds.

“In our view, this bill is a poison that will destroy all Kenyans. We would not be enjoying the extended human rights and constitutional freedoms we are enjoying now if it was not for the CBOs which stood up against oppression of yesteryears,” added Sheikh Ahmed Ramadhan from the Nubian Minority Lobby Group.

If it sails through the National Assembly and gets assent by President Uhuru Kenyatta, this could severely affect NGOs and the civil societies most of which depend 100 percent of their budgets from foreign funding.

Even then, the extra funds will be channelled through a federation.

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The Attorney General who is the author of the Miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2013, which proposes to amend clauses in the Public Benefit Organisation Act, has defended his amendments saying they were aimed at rectifying conflicting clauses in it.

“It is not a secret anyone that a few in government think that a few individuals or organisations in the civil society are to blame for the ongoing cases at the ICC. There is every indication that part of this bill is aimed at targeting certain organisations most those that deal with human rights and governance that are suspected to have come to the rescue of the victims of post election violence,” Churchill stated.

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