’Politics Failing Govt Policies’

A combination of ignorance, poverty, disease and patronage politics explains why many policies in Uganda don’t produce the intended results, experts and politicians have said.

Speaking at a policy dialogue on ‘Challenges of Policy Implementation in Uganda: Politics and State’ at Uganda Management Institute on March 20, politicians and policy analysts said the country had a serious policy-implementation deficit.

Prof Tarsis Kabwegyere, the minister for General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister, believes policies are largely failed by ignorance among Ugandans.

“We can have a policy on toilets yet there are people who believe [culturally that] if a woman uses a toilet, she becomes infertile. So, even if you build for them toilets, no one can go there. We still have people who resist immunization,” Kabwegyere said.

He added that for policies to be successfully implemented, it took more than a policymaker or implementer.

“The beneficiaries themselves should get involved and understand the policy. There is need to educate the public to understand government policies,” he said.

He revealed that despite several years and resources injected in Functional Adult Education (FAE), more than seven million Ugandans remained illiterate. And he warned that there were policies the country adopted that were creating more problems.

“Our anti-homosexuality stand is being met with hostility. If the trend continues like this… there will be no light in this room, because we are vulnerable,” Kabwegyere said.

However, he said, some policies, were hastily drawn and unrealistic. He cited the National Forestry Policy in 2001, that led to the 2003 National Forestry and Tree Planting Act. The act provided for a tree fund to green Uganda, but 11 years later, the tree fund is yet to be established.

Victoria Ssekitoleko, a former minister for Agriculture, wondered why, despite the decentralisation policy, the country had not held local council I and II elections for over a decade. In response, Kabwegyere blamed this on former FDC President Kizza Besigye.

“We used to line up behind candidates and conduct elections in one day. But Besigye and his group [opposition] and other democratic theorists said that was not democracy we needed a ballot. But it requires a lot of money,” he said.

Moses Khisa, the main presenter, blamed politics for the policy implementation deficit. Khisa, a PhD candidate at Northwestern University in Chicago, USA, said policies dictated on Uganda by foreign powers were successfully implemented while locally-generated ones remained largely on paper.

He cited the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs). Because government wanted loans from the World Bank, it implemented these locally-unpopular policies, while it continues to dither on locally-driven initiatives.

Khisa, a columnist in The Observer, said President Museveni pursued a policy of inclusion to give his regime legitimacy. The president made sure that those who challenged his power were included in his government. But countries like Rwanda and Ethiopia, he said, derived their legitimacy through substantive service delivery, which is why they are moving forward.

“Until we define the politics, we shall remain stagnant. We are neither a consolidated democracy nor fully authoritarian. To me that is where the main problem lies,” Khisa said.

Dr Sylvester Kugonza, a policy analyst, said there were a lot of overlaps in institutional mandates, making policy implementation difficult.

“Each ministry acts as if another one doesn’t exist,” Kugonza said. “Innovation in civil service is almost absent. We have not invested in understanding why we fail.”

Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a Makerere University lecturer, said there was a time [during the colonial era] when there was implementation of policies. For instance, if the colonial government said everyone should have a latrine, one either had it or slept in jail. There was, he seemed to imply, no shortage of political will to push through policies.

Source : The Observer

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