District local council chairpersons are pressing for a minimum academic qualification of Ordinary-Level certificate for aspirants for local council leadership. Under their umbrella body, the Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA), the district leaders said illiterate local council leaders have failed to explain and promote government programmes.
Speaking during the ninth Joint Annual Review of Decentralisation conference in Entebbe on Thursday, the ULGA chairman, Mr Frederick Ngobi Gume, said the illiterate local council aspirants should have taken aantage of the government’s free education programme, which was introduced in 1997, to acquire academic qualifications.
Mr Gume also asked government to train elected leaders on managing a multiparty political dispensation to avoid conflicts in council meetings. Uganda returned to a multiparty political system after the amendment of the Constitution in 2005.
He accused the central government of “recentralising” local governments’ operations contrary to the principles of the decentralisation system which was introduced in 1992 to devolve powers to the districts. “The rate at which local governments operations are being infringed on by the central government is worrying. There is recentralisation of land systems to a single treasury. There is also delay to fill vacant posts at districts.
Mr Gume castigated the government for not involving local governments in its programme implementation. He cited Rukungiri District where a bridge was being constructed and a certificate of completion was issued by the central government when the work had not been completed because the central government did not involve the local leadership.In response, the Local Government minister, Mr Adolf Mwesige, rejected Mr Gume’s proposal for academic qualifications for local council officials. He argued that it would be an ‘attempt to take away people’s power’.
“We cannot accept such a proposal. That is taking away people’s power. I have seen many uneducated people leading well more than the educated ones. It is an unaccepted proposal,” Mr Mwesige said.
Mr Mwesige added that decentralisation was strategically crafted to provide local democracy, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability in generation of resources. He said decentralisation has given the country a governance structure that can propel development.
Ms Wakabi Mpabuulungi, who was speaking on behalf of Ms Almaz Gebru, the UN country director, said some programmes in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) are not clearly demarcated.
“It is not clear to us how various stakeholders are utilising or coordinating their activities under this framework. Many times it has been mooted to have a joint review annually in order to share the sector issues,” she said.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor