RDCs Have to Prove Their Worth, Relevance

On Monday, Presidency minister Frank Tumwebaze delivered the keynote address at the retreat for resident district commissioners, chief administrative officers and district internal security officers at the National Leadership Institute, Kyankwanzi. Below is an abridged version of his speech.

This year’s retreat is important and strategic because for the first time we are bringing together RDCs, deputy RDCs, district internal security officers (DISOs) and chief administrative officers (CAOs). This was after realising the need for you to coordinate and move as a team with the same objective.

I am grateful to the minister of local government for accepting this joint activity. At last year’s retreat, I gave you the ideological foundation as well as the evolution of the institution of RDCs and, therefore, I will not repeat it. I, however, expect you to fully understand that historical foundation and make sure you don’t deviate from those core objectives.

From last year’s retreat, we have achieved some progress in building the capacity of your institution. The following are some of the highlights:

1. The president listened to your plea in your memorandum and your fuel has now been enhanced. I am sure you know this. I will also continue to discuss with ministry of finance to see that your fuel for monitoring is further increased gradually over the years.

However, for [us] to convince government to appreciate your roles as a key priority and, therefore, justify the need for further facilitation, you must prove your worth and relevance. You must perform your core mandate – fight and stop the diversion and wastage of public resources through intensified inspection of government projects.

You are the gatekeepers and watchmen of government in your respective stations. You should fight impunity in government work uncompromisingly. We are there to support you.

I have argued before and will repeat: The fight against corruption will never be successful if preventive measures are not well-built. However much as the other anti-graft institutions are vigilant, their work is always after the crimes have taken place and, therefore, somehow post-mortem. The real sustainable approach,which will also simplify the work of IGG, CIID, AG, etc, is strict inspection and monitoring in real time, right at the point of expenditure..

I am grateful to most of you that have stuck to your roles. We get good feedback the impression about the roles of RDCs is now more positive, with many citizens trying to regain confidence in your work. Keep it up.

I am, however, disappointed with some of you that continue to take your work casually. Some of you continue to be habitual absentees at work without any authorization. This will not be tolerated anymore.

Those of you who have been in the habit of absenting yourselves for prolonged terms without approval from Office of the President have exhibited the highest form of corruption by continuously drawing salaries and monitoring funds, which you have not worked for. I hope we shall candidly discuss this during this retreat.

2. We must all adopt a standard method of work. If it’s monitoring, what is it that the RDC should pay attention to on routine basis? The president has firmly given the following instructions:

Discovering whether services and resources meant for the people are received. For instance, are teachers getting their salaries? Are the teachers teaching or spending the whole day under the mango trees conversing? Is the operation wealth creation reaching its intended beneficiaries?

Monitor the roads and find out whether government is being overpriced. Find out whether medical and veterinary drugs are being diverted. All leaders at the district should make sure that the government programmes benefit the ordinary person.

Sensitization of the public about how to live right. District officials should help government eliminate loopholes that can cause diseases or poverty. I urge you to work like you owe this nation a service. Building of a nation is not a duty, it’s a pleasure to all that love their country and there is no price tag to this.

The president also emphasised that you should listen to petitions from citizens, coordinate crime and intelligence reports with technical actors like DISO and police.

3. Your other key task should be to communicate government programmes and other messages of national guidance. The ministry of information and national guidance, in collaboration with Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), have, by a policy instrument, secured government free airtime on all radios.

Radios are always willing to host you at any time to pass on messages relating to government programmes. If most of you have not yet taken this seriously, how then will you undertake this major task of communicating government programmes?

Through the radios and other field outreach programmes, the population should be mobilized to engage in profitable commercial production for enhancement of household incomes.

Standard messages by the president on this subject have been produced and you have copies in easy-to-read-and-understand format. It should be made clear to the citizenry that whereas government has its primary roles of building infrastructure, maintaining peace and stability, etc., the citizenry ought to work on their own towards improving their individual households.

4. For those of you intending to enter elective politics, the Constitution [allows you] to do so. You should know the procedure. However, it is wrong to abandon your stations and relocate to your prospective constituencies to engage in early politicking. This is not acceptable.

I have given instructions to the secretary, Office of the President, to meet all of you concerned for proper aice. Engaging in partisan politicking is also an issue many of you ought to be cautious about, especially as we approach the election period.

5. As RDCs, you are legally mandated to be the chairpersons of the District Security Committees (DSCs). This is meant to coordinate the work of all the security actors in the district and ensure that the respective security committees, right from the village to the sub-county level, are in place.

They are the bedrock foundation security. It’s your duty and not any other s’ to ensure that the local security system in the district is functioning. We shall once again take you through various presentations, including how to source information about government programmes and how to communicate it.

We expect you to pay keen attention to the following:

Periodic inspection and monitoring of government programmes with special attention to areas identified above. In the past, the president directed that RDCs should commission all projectsrogrammes in districts.

However, I am reliably informed that some CAOs have stubbornly refused to avail you information regarding these programmes or you have been deliberately sidelined by the different implementing entities.

I will use this retreat to talk to the CAOs and harmonise about the need to facilitate the commissioning of government works.

Communicating relevant and factual messagesinformation about government programmes in your respective districts to the community and highlighting government achievements in each financial year or even a quarter of financial releases.

Being resident and full- time staff in your districts and, therefore, taking full charge of your stations. Convene and chair security meetings regularly so as to give a platform to all security actors in the district to come together and coordinate work.

We shall, therefore, be assessing your performance on these core tasks. Your monthly reports should as well highlight what has been done and achieved along these tasks.

My aice is that you separate incidental reports from the routine monthly reports.While monthly reports are general, covering how your office has tackled the above tasks, incidental reports should be on specific incidents e.g. detailing a particular corruption case, insecurity or some unusual occurrence like an epidemic [where] you would want government to respond.

Incidental reports can be submitted to my office at any time as the incident occurs, as you continue filing the routine monthly reports. However, in all these reports, strive for completeness, accuracy and timeliness. Let the issues be properly presented with evidence or leadsclues that can further be followed. Don’t just write hearsay.

Failure to report is a sign of un-seriousness and each of you will be held responsible for that. We now have requisite capacity in the Office of the President to review all your reports in time and take appropriate action.

Some government agencies are also beginning to take seriously the feedback you give to government.

I would love to quantify in the coming years in real monetary figures the amounts of money government is able to save or recover as a result of your strict monitoring and inspection efforts. Let us all aim at this.

The author is the minister for the Presidency and Kampala Capital City.

Source : The Observer