Local govts in Eastern Uganda worry over “untamed” corruption

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Local govts in Eastern Uganda worry over “untamed” corruption
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District leaders in Eastern Uganda have expressed dismay over the rampant corruption within various government institutions, including parliament.

At a regional engagement held at Wash and Wills Hotel, the leaders called for decisive action to address corruption, which they said is damaging the government's image and undermining mobilization efforts.

During a two-day workshop organized by the Office of the Government Chief Whip, regional whips, MPs, Resident District Commissioners (RDCs), City Mayors, District Chairpersons, District Intelligence Security Officers, and District NRM Chairpersons discussed the pervasive issue of corruption and how to bolster monitoring effort.

They underscored the need for stronger measures to curb these practices and ensure effective service delivery aligned with the NRM manifesto.

A midterm review of the NRM manifesto showed varied results with  35% of the targets achieved, 45% in progress, and 20% pending.

In education, the review noted a 68% primary school coverage with 1,020 out of 3,230 parishes having a primary school, and a 45% secondary school coverage with 407 out of 742 sub-counties having a secondary school.

Tertiary education coverage was reported at 37%.

Wills Bashasha, the Director for NRM-Manifesto implementation unit, is optimistic that  if the 44% of the work is concluded the percentage will reach 80 by the end of the political term.

However, this will depend on monitoring and effective utilization of resources allocate to various sectors by all stakeholders.

Bashasha however highlighted the detrimental impact of corruption, including embezzlement and incomplete projects, on service delivery.

“Corruption continues to be a very serious challenge and a big setback in the implementation process” he said in  an interview with Nile Post.

He emphasized the need for coordinated monitoring efforts and increased funding to address these issues effectively.

Magid Dikusoka, the RDC of Pallisa District, highlighted significant improvements in national road infrastructure in his district.

However, he voiced concerns on the deplorable condition of Pallisa General Hospital and noted the public's frustration due to frequent reports of extravagant government expenditure amidst claims of financial constraints.

Dikusoka stressed that such contradictions make it difficult for local leaders to defend government actions.

Salim Komakech, RDC of Soroti District, pointed out corruption in centrally procured projects, noting inflated costs and some initiatives abandoned midway.

He cited an example of a 10 km road in Soroti County costing shs800 million, while the district’s allocated less than shs500 million for an equivalent road.

Komakech called for standardized costing of government projects to eliminate corruption.

“if we don’t do these things rightly the system we are defending will disappoint ourselves,” Komakech said.

Charles Elasu, NRM Chairperson of Soroti, expressed concern over the centralization of project management, which he believes reduces local oversight and accountability.

He noted that projects originally intended to be managed locally are now controlled centrally, which diminishes the role of local leaders.

Patrick Opolot Esiagi, MP for Bukedea County and Chairperson of the Budget Committee, emphasized the need for proper prioritization and information sharing to strengthen monitoring efforts.

He advocated for the prudent investment of national revenue to enhance public services and foster innovation.

Godfrey Othieno, NRM Chairperson of Tororo County, lamented the widespread corruption in central government institutions, including parliament.

He expressed the frustration of grassroots leaders who see corruption at higher levels, leading to a sense of hopelessness about addressing these issues locally.

“You used to say that it is in the local government who are corrupt but now even MPs are implicated,” Othieno said.

In response to these concerns, Government Chief Whip Denis Obua reaffirmed the government’s commitment to tackling corruption.

He emphasized the importance of coordinated action and central leadership in the anti-corruption campaign.

Obua cited recent decisive measures against corrupt MPs as examples of the government’s efforts and stressed the need for MPs to align with President Yoweri Museveni’s leadership in fighting corruption.

Obua likened  the fight against corruption to  military strategy, where uncoordinated efforts can lead to significant setbacks, including internal conflicts and unintended consequences.

He highlighted the 11th Parliament’s role in exposing and addressing corruption, such as revealing over shs270 billion in compensation to cooperatives, a matter unearthed by the current parliament despite the funds being allocated by the previous one.

The  Government Chief Whip pledged governments commitment to empower local leaders to bolster their monitoring capacity.

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