By Asia Russell
Today in Kampala civil society groups representing key affected populations, including sexual and gender minorities and drug users, spoke out against the election process for key affected populations for an important Ugandan policy setting body—the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria's Country Coordinating Mechanism.
Country Coordinating Mechanisms (or CCMs) are responsible for developing national funding requests to the Global Fund, and overseeing implementation of Global Fund supported programs.
Key affected populations in Uganda face an environment of intense stigma and discrimination, and often lack access to quality prevention and treatment services, all factors that increase their vulnerability to HIV infection. It is widely recognized that Uganda's persistently high adult HIV incidence is caused in part by the lack of investment in inclusive service delivery for criminalized and marginalized populations, and by insufficient support for advocacy to defend the health and human rights of these communities.
The groups released a press statement (copied below), highlighting multiple flaws in the CCM election process, and calling for an election that is built on their repeated requests for direct representation by qualified, accountable members of their communities who do not have any financial conflict of interest.
Health GAP will help share further updates about this important effort by key populations to ensure high-impact CCM representation and to help shape the strategy, policy, and priorities of Uganda's Global Fund-supported programs.
Press Statement by Spectrum Uganda, Sexual Minorities Uganda, Uganda Harm Reduction Network and allies
For immediate release
Kampala, Feb 5, 2015
Global Fund Uganda Country Coordinating Mechanism moves to further alienate MSM, Transgender, LGB, and IDU populations in HIV/AIDS Programmes.
Key Affected Population (KAPs) groups in Uganda have today reacted with sadness at the unfortunate move by Uganda Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) to block sexual and gender minorities from representation on the CCM.
The activists’ meeting this morning in Kampala noted that the Global Fund in Uganda had exhibited “unacceptable hypocrisy and prejudice” by insisting on imposing representatives on KAPs, despite an earlier arrangement agreed upon, by the CCM and activists, to have functional direct representation.
The activists have written to the CCM secretariat indicating dissatisfaction with the biased and unrepresentative manner in which the elections were arranged once again.
“We have chosen not to participate in today’s CCM KAP representatives elections because of it has been stage managed and we cannot henceforth be part of a process that continuously seeks to undermine and intimidate us,” Pepe Julian Onziema, the Programmes and Advocacy Director at SMUG said.
He noted that it was inconceivable that the CCM chairperson Prof. Nantulya, a highly respected and liberal minded person, “Should go against the principles agreed upon and demand we participate in another sham and flawed election.” Activists accused the Uganda CCM of imposing [the organization] MARPS Network Secretariat to forcefully represent them despite an overwhelming conflict of interest.
Moses Kimbugwe, the Programmes Manager at Spectrum Uganda added: “The December 2014 elections were nullified due to complaints of conflict of interest on the side of MARPS network. We agreed with CCM in a meeting whose minutes can be availed that a neutral party, say CCM who has no direct benefit from the results of the election convenes and supervises the election.”
“We could not participate in a flawed election. Conflict of interest and integrity issues have come up often concerning MARPS network. However, Uganda CCM insists on imposing an institution we can not trust on us.” Kimbugwe said.
"This is a strangulation of due process," Ms Beyonce Karungi, a nominee to the CCM described the elections, said. "Even the deaf and blind can use sign language. CCM Uganda cannot continue to undermine us as gender and sexual minorities. To say we 'are not of age' to understand HIV related policy issues is an insult," she
Dr. Frank Mugisha, the Executive Director of SMUG said, “Uganda cannot get to zero new infections with a fixed mindset that alienates some part of the population based on who they are. He noted that although an electoral college had been agreed upon consisting of 40 delegates, CCM Uganda has not honored the due process and went ahead with the elections.”
Notes for the editor
On January 21, 2015 the Uganda CCM officially nullified the disputed results from elections of Key Affected Population representative to the CCM-Uganda, 2015-17.
The CCM Chairperson, Prof. Vinand Nantulya while chairing a meeting of activists from various KAP constituencies noted that there were “obvious flaws” in electing Dr. Geoffrey Mujisha and Ms Shalince Naturinda (both biological relatives-brother and sister) and from the same organization, MARPS Network, without the transparent, verifiable and agreed upon mechanism from Key Affected Populations as an electoral college to Global Fund CCM-Uganda.
Global Fund CCM-Uganda. Undeclared conflict of interest on the side of MARPS network, which convened the meeting and elected its own staff, lack of communication, consultation and feed back from KAP representatives or interested groups featured prominently as having caused “ the flawed election; and friction” according to Prof. Nantulya. A number of concerns from us were addressed.
Undeclared conflict of interest on the side of MARPS network, which convened the meeting and elected its own staff, lack of communication, consultation and feed back from KAP representatives or interested groups featured prominently as having caused “ the flawed election; and friction” according to Prof. Nantulya. A number of concerns from us were addressed.
It was observed that for smooth operations of the CCM, new elections be held on February 05, with a clear, time bound road map and agreed upon Terms of Reference, which CCM Uganda has now dishonored.
That meeting also agreed that LGBTI/MSM and sex workers representation was wanting; with calls for DIRECT representation from self identified LGBTI or sex workers on one of the two available positions on the CCM. A total of eight KAP sub constituencies were identified, with MSM, LGBTI and sex workers included. These groups working directly with Prof. Nantulya were to nominate 5 representatives each and forward names to CCM by January 31, 2015. All nominated representatives were then to convene on February 05, 2015 for the general election organized by CCM not MARPS network.
Pepe Julian Onziema, Sexual Minorities Uganda +256 772370 674 firstname.lastname@example.org
Moses Kimbugwe, Spectrum Uganda Initiatives +256 782854391 email@example.com
Twaibu Wamala, Uganda Harm Reduction Network +256 702980968