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The emergence of Kituo cha Katiba (KcK) in 1997 was a logical embodiment of an historic opportunity for the peoples of Eastern Africa to reshape their social contract with their governments. Since the opening up of political space for democratisation in Eastern Africa and Africa as a whole, the people have progressively, though painstakingly, been empowered to hold their governments accountable and have their aspirations, welfare needs and other rights promoted and protected.
The founder members of KcK having recognised that an emerging culture of constitutionalism requires an organisational apparatus and strategic focus in order to make practical progress, commissioned consultations by Center for Basic Research (CBR) that targeted diverse respondents in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The process brought to the fore the imperative for promoting the active participation of civil society in good governance and democratic development and in the process ingrain a culture of constitutionalism. It is around these guiding principles that strategic interventions were framed by KcK. Additionally, the 1999 East African Treaty establishing the East African Community confirmed KcK’s relevance as a regional body focusing on research, documentation, networking and advocacy on constitutionalism, good governance and democratic development.
Mr. Robert Turyahebwa
Dr. Tulia Ackson
Ms. Peace Uwineza
Mr. Ezra Mbogori
The Youth were mobilised with the aim of promoting national and regional youth initiatives that build and enhance democratic leadership and values and to widen understanding and generate consensus on constitutional issues of interest to young people. A workshop was held in Kenya in March 2002 in collaboration with the National Youth Movement. The Youth Conference on Governance and Democratic Practice took place in Mombasa with the collaboration of the the East African Youth Council, (EAYCO). The goal of the conference was to empower youth with leadership and management skills with the aim of enhancing their democratic practice. The forum drew a dynamic group of youth within the region including leaders of EAYCO, NGOs, Parliament, Government, internship students and several youths vying for parliamentary seats in the 2002 elections. This enriched the discussions and generated a diversity of views. The youth contributed to the development of a resource material suited to their needs, perceptions, values, that shall be used as a point of reference in disseminating the acquired knowledge to their peers.
KcK particularly targeted women and the youth as marginalised groups in constitutional development within the region. In 2001, KcK undertook empirical research on Gender and Employment to make a case for the establishment of the Equal Opportunities Commission in Uganda, which is the only constitutionally- provided Commission that has hitherto not been established. It is hoped that the empirical data shall enhance constitutional activism as an advocacy tool. In Tanzania, KcK reviewed the constitution and evaluated the extent to which the government had honoured its obligations in realising the vision for a free and equal society, as a recognised development goal. KcK held workshops in collaboration with stakeholders sharing similar objectives, namely the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Tanzania, and the Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) and the EAYCO. In all these fora KcK mobilised participants from a multi-disciplinary background.
KCK's Gender and Constitutionalism project was founded on the premise that despite women's critical importance to the continent's survival, they continue to be marginalised. The goal of the project was to widen the capacity of gender activists and sympathisers to appreciate gender equality as a critical framework and ideological tool for development, good governance, progressive constitutionalism and social change.
Kituo cha Katiba in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in United Kingdom is coordinated a program for the leadership training of women lawyers in East Africa. The fellowship program was a joint initiative of Dr. Tade Aina and Dr. Joseph Gitari of The Ford Foundation Nairobi, and Prof. Julius Ihonvbere of The Ford Foundation New York. The program aimed at widening the capacity to use law as an instrument for the promotion of human rights, democratisation, and social change. Further more, the program sought to promote more interaction and solidarity among the three women lawyers’ associations; FIDA (Uganda), FIDA (Kenya) and TWLA on one part and Kituo cha Katiba and CDD as advocacy centers on the other.
The program further aimed at taking advantage of the emancipation agenda that calls for the representation of women in decision making. It is acknowledged that participation of women in vast numbers may not change the nature of the democratic function from that of a patriarchal model to one based on egalitarianism, where there is no change nor questioning of the ideological framework. In addition, the lack of comprehensive information has been used as a pretext to constrain the participation of women lawyers in vying for government leadership positions. Many women lawyers are reluctant to join the field of politics, which is dominated by men. Therefore the program aimed to facilitate women in East Africa to join the debate in order to influence thoughts and practice of policy makers, by redefining political participation.
The following were the specific objectives :
Promote the professional and intellectual growth of the three associations to utilise the constitution in achieving gender parity, in instituting cases of public litigation and the provision of appropriate legal counsel.
In the year 2000, six women lawyers enrolled for the program at the Universities of Sussex and Leeds in the United Kingdom, namely : Ms. Vum Ligate, Ms. Enid Nambuya, Ms. Beatrice Ngozi, Ms. Lillian Keene, Ms. Robina Namusisi and Ms. Miriam Namutebi.
Kituo cha Katiba initiated its program on Non-profit governance in East Africa targeting sixteen decision makers identified by the Ford Foundation. The aim of the training was to strengthen the democratic and effective governance of the Non-profit sector as a means of increasing its moral authority and act as a check and balance to government. This training aimed to address a real gap of the existing dearth of training materials and professional guidance in non-profit governance in East Africa. Many of the leaders learn on the job with the resultant wastage of time, resources and avoidable conflicts. The success of this program was illuminated in the external evaluation report of the organisation. Particularly, the training was appreciated as a strategic and direct intervention of Kituo cha Katiba, as a complimentary partner of civil society organisation in facilitating democratic practice with the resultant improved productivity of their organisations.