By Aaron Sseruyigo
KAMPALA – Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Hon Fr Simon Lokodo has teamed up with a consultant from Rwanda who helped President Paul Kagama to bring about a policy which closed over 600 Churches in the country last year.
During a meeting with Born-again Church leaders including Dr Joseph Serwadda and Apostle Charles Tumwine, Fr Simon Lokodo explained that the expert will help the Directorate for Ethics and Integrity draft a policy framework for Churches in Uganda.
“We have got a consultant, which consultant helped President Kagame to bring about a policy which closed over 600 Churches in Rwanda,” Minister Lokodo said on Friday.
“He is here now preparing how to legalise,” he added, emphasising that there is no policy or law as yet as some media channels could have reported.
The meeting came following grievances made by sources close to Minister Lokodo who told him that Dr Serwadda, who is also the presiding Apostle of the Born Again faith in Uganda, claims to posses a legal document that mandates him to over-see and also register all Born-again Churches Uganda.
As this website reported earlier, Dr Serwadda dismissed these accusations on Wednesday at the Born Again Faith head offices in Najjanankumbi, and demanded a public apology from the minister.
The two parties on Friday agreed to summon other stake holders who “misled” the minister to resolve the matter.
“Let there be one church that says I was not told to operate on orders of government or any other minister of government. I want to hear that one Church, and we will report all of us before God and before this nation and before you,” Dr Serwadda told minister Lokodo.
“My request is to cause a small meeting like this one. Let Bishop Lwere come with one or two people – sit here and tell us where that document is. So that, instead of [us] demanding for you to apologise, let it be him to repent because he is a Christian.”
Church closures in Rwanda
The Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) last year formulated and implemented a policy on registration and functioning of churches in the country in the face of rising cases of fraud and security concerns, it was reported.
As a result, over 600 official and unofficial churches, as well as 100 mosques, were closed for failing to comply with health, safety, and noise regulations. This included 4 in 10 congregations belonging to a nationwide association of 3,300 Pentecostal churches.
The new legislation requires pastors to have a theology degree before they start their own churches.
President Paul Kagame welcomed the shutdowns but was stunned at the scale: “700 churches in Kigali?” he said during a government dialogue in March last year. “Are these boreholes that give people water? I don’t think we have as many boreholes. Do we even have as many factories? This has been a mess!”
Kagame said his country doesn’t need so many houses of worship, explaining that such a high number is only fit for bigger, more developed economies that have the means to sustain them.
Many church leaders disagree, and six Pentecostal pastors were arrested for organizing protests.