By Najib Mulema

Religious Leaders under their umbrella body The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) have come out to clarify on the shs5 billion pledge which was recently made by President Yoweri Museveni when he met them and other dignitaries at State House last Friday.

Early this week, a section of Members of Parliament had tasked religious leaders to reject the pledge saying it will compromise the Church.

However in a letter dated 10 May, 2018, the Council’s Secretary General Mr. Joshua Kitakule revealed that the shs5 billion pledge from government is not a personal donation from the president as it has alleged by some members of the public but and it will be duly appropriated through a parliamentary vote for the next financial year.

Mr. Kitakule says the money in question was pledged by government with the main aim of helping the council to eradicate poverty through individual faith based member organizations that hve been running poverty eradication programs independently.

He says when received, the money will be channeled through the council to affiliated organizations such as Caritas Uganda for the Catholic Church, Planning Development and Rehabilitation (PDR) for Church of Uganda and Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) for the Seventh Day Adventist Uganda Union.

According to Mr. Kitakule, IRCU decided to take a pragmatic and structured approach in fight against poverty because the vice is on the rise especially in the Northern and eastern regions of the country.

“Poverty eradication is not a sole responsibility of government. It is duty to be carried out by a multiplicity of stakeholders, including religious institutions. We are mandated to not only spiritually empower the citizens, but also encourage them to embrace development activities to improve their household incomes. Admittedly, these anti-poverty messages are daily menu of the sermons and khotubas in different prayer houses,” he said.

Mr. Kitakule further established what the council aims to do with the funds when received.

He revealed that they will orient religious leaders in mindset change so that religious messages aim at both soul and body of the faithful, establish 10 model farms in each region starting with the Eastern, Northern and West Nile , convene regional household incomes and food security conferences for lower level religious leaders as well as conducting nationwide anti-poverty campaigns.