The MUBS Leadership Centre on Decentralization

The MUBS Leadership Centre held its quarterly seminar on the topical issue of decentralization. Decentralization is evolution of authority from the centre to local government. Based on the belief that when authority is taken to lower levels, decisions made are better and \service delivery is also better. The evolution of power in Uganda is through the system of districts which are the local governments in different parts of the country. In less than 20 years, the number of districts has increased from about 35 to almost 120.  There are different views about decentralization and it is a controversial issue that is being discussed country wide to establish whether it is the ideal system of government. The 20th seminar was addressed by three panelists including Mr. Umar Lubogoyi who is writing his PhD in decentralization, Hon. Joyce Sebugwawo, the Mayor of Rubaga Municipality division and Ms. Rose Gertrude Gamwera, the Secretary General of Uganda Local Government Association (ULUGA). This was an exciting presentation involving an academician, Mr. Lubogoyi, a practitioner Hon. Sebugwawo and a technocrat Ms. Gamwera. Mr. Lubogoyi dealt with the fact that unless f there was goal congress among the different players in local government, there would be no efficient service delivery. Hon. Sebugwawo said that decentralization was intended among other objectives to ensure citizen participation and promote people ownership of projects in local areas. She said that since the project began with resistance councils in 1987, there had been some achievements and there were also challenges. She recognized that infrastructural development was a key achievement and even community participation however she said that corruption, conflict, selfish politicians and lack of skills was a key constraint to effective decentralization. She hoped that in addressing these, decentralization will be more effective since it was a desired strategy. The Secretary General of ULUGA Mrs. Gamwera listed the objectives of Ulga which broadly was intended to advocate for the interest of local governments in Uganda. She also went ahead to list the achievements of decentralization and took time to reflect on the impact of decentralization. She concluded by giving the challenges of decentralization including inadequacy of resources, poor remuneration and insufficient facilitation of political leadership.

Prof. Balunywa the MUBS Principal, while closing the seminar also agreed that decentralization was an ideal objective of improving service delivery but he was of the view that there were now too many districts and the intended objective may not be achieved in the long run. He called upon researchers to go out and establish the facts on the ground so as to form a basis for policy revision if necessary. He said that he had been involved in some research about the problems of jiggers in the Busoga area and the research had established that the elected people were not available on the ground to lead the ordinary people and yet the paid officers were not facilitated to deal with the issues that affected the ordinary people in the villages. He said that the problem of jiggers was a problem of failure of leadership at the local levels, the leaders were not present and besides elected leaders were also scared of the electorate because the electorate always simply demanded free goods and services from the elected leaders. He said the country needed to find a solution to this problem. The Director of the Leadership Centre Ms. Regis Namuddu indicated the role of the Centre as one to cause debate of topical issues of which decentralization was one. The seminar was ably chaired by Dr. Mesearch Katulebe, who paid tribute to the MUBS Principal for participating unlike many other heads of Institution who never knew what was going on around them. The chair ably guided the discussion. The day manager was Mr. George Mugerwa.

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