Parliament should kick out the push by the Committee on Public Service and Local Government to have five more new districts created. This move to carve out new districts from Wakiso, Kibaale, Kabale, Arua and Kasese, has already kicked up a chorus of angry outbursts from readers. And Parliament should listen to the concerned public.
Only last March, the government halted the creation of 23 new districts, citing lack of financial resources. Then President Museveni asked Local Government Minister Adolf Mwesige to withdraw the motion. The move had met significant resistance from civil society organisations, the Opposition and some ruling party MPs. The MPs proposed that a study be commissioned to examine the sustainability of old districts. So who is pushing to have five more districts created? Where have the finances come from when Uganda is struggling to tax even paraffin to raise more money to plug gaps in the strained National Budget? Can those pushing for new districts show an assessment of how newly created districts have shaped quality service delivery?
Woefully, the current 112 districts are underfunded, weighed down by high costs of public administration, and offer poor services. As Local Government shadow minister Betty Nambooze said, the government should first lift up and sustain the struggling 112 districts. Presently, as the ministerial policy statement of 2011415 cited, 34 districts are without chief administrative officers (CAOs), 22 without deputy CAOs, and the rest with only one, instead of two deputy CAOs. Besides, 61 districts are without principal personnel officers, 59 without chief finance officers, and 57 without district planners. Moreover, 56 are without education officers, 49 without district health officers, and another 74 districts are without production officers.
Ugandans demand solutions to these gaps and poor service delivery in these 112 districts, not to widen the gaps even more. Mr Museveni then said no more new districts would be created because there is no money to fund them. Deplorably, this committee pushing for more districts is the same committee that President Museveni met and was led by same chairperson, Ms Florence Kintu. So what drives our MPs to crave more districts?
Of course, others argue that Article 179 of the 1995 Constitution empowers Parliament to alter boundaries and create more districts. But the same Constitution demands any measure for alteration or creation of new districts shall be based on necessity for effective administration and need to bring services closer to the people. As it is, Uganda cannot afford planners, CAOS, education, health and production, and principal personnel officers to run the districts.
The issue: District creation
Our view: Ugandans demand solutions to these gaps and poor service delivery in these 112 districts, not to widen the gaps even more.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor