Spirit of Uganda

Spirit of Uganda

— Initiated by the victory of guerilla movement, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), led by General Museveni in the mid-1980s.
— To consolidate their power and help administer national territory, local resistance councils were established. A hierarchy linking them to districts was established, converted into elected bodies with party less elections.
— The influence of the old political parties, traditional chiefs, and major ethnic separatist groups is offset by it.
— Devolution of public services and administration became necessary to achieve these outcomes.
— Reform enabled the NRM party to abstract from the challenges of multipartyism and federalism and focus on economic liberalization.
— The devolution is accomplished gradually
— In 1987 resistance councils were formalized, 1993 decentralization act consolidated their powers. General framework in 1995 constitution, further details in 1997 Local Government Act.
— District Councils are elected in nonparty elections once every four years, with executive authority vested in the district chair, who is directly elected.
— No powers to impose taxes without the approval of Parliament.
— Powerful pressure on local governments to conform to the priorities of the NRM, which has a structure that parallels the elected government councils at every level.
— Primary education, health services, and local infrastructure transferred
— Supervision and monitoring across successive levels and also by civil servants appointed by the President.
— On the fiscal side, local governments have some ability to set local taxes and fees but rely mostly on formula based allocations of tax revenues.
— Grants are conditional, unconditional, and equalization. Delays in disbursement observed.
— Fiscal autonomy is further compromised by large wage bills for personnel that they have little control over.
— Health sector is quite centralized
— Numerous efforts were made to curb corruption and inefficiency in deliveries, more successful in education sector with school committees. Health sector not improved much.
— District govts have less freedom concerning salaries and staff decisions,
— Limited value to preventive medicine and so immunization coverage after devolution lowered, drugs supply centralized,
— Universal primary education program abolished school fees, increased education funding and allowed families to choose among public schools. Primary enrolment increased, budget share on education increased, greater transparency in the use of funds.
— Political participation is high with 80% election turnout, 50% of households made specific requests with local administration.
— Information flows between citizens and elected officials were poor.
— Less correlation between district officials and citizens in perceptions of priorities on public spending, better at sub-district level.
— Citizens relied on community leaders rather than the media for information about local politics, but less likelihood of receiving news of corruption.
— Due to low citizen mobility

and limited political competition, preconditions for decentralization to have effective impact are largely absent in Uganda.



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