Oselel Youth Brick Making Youth Group in Anyara S/C in Kaberemaido District received UGX 3Million from the Youth Livelihood Project. All benefitting youth groups understand that this money is a loan and is recoverable from the group or the individuals. Since the project commenced it has been wrought by a number of challenges including; reported kick-backs by the youth groups to the Sub County authorities who participate in processing the payments, misuse by the youth leaders and deviations from the design of the projects. Local leaders especially RDCs have been heard calling on the locla politicians to supervise the YLP to avoid rampant abuse.
When Oselel Youth Group received their money; they deviated from the design of the project of Brick Laying to sharing the grant among the leaders to procure motorclycles for the Boda-Boda business. After that happened; it has become a cat-and-mouse relationship with the Sub County Authorities meant to supervise the fund. This is not an isolated trend but many groups have been affected with mostly the group leaders benefiting.
When TAC begun training of community structures on accountability; the LC III Chairperson of Anyara identified the leaders of this group to attend the Anyara session on 10th August 2016 in the S/C headquarters with the intention that the training would equip them and prevent continued abuse of the project funds. However the youth group leaders became suspicious of being 'arrested' by TAC and opted to shun the training. They later sent in a spy to confirm if indeed TAC had arrived at the Sub County to follow-up with their group's use of the YLP money. The CDO and other participants called upon TAC to support the S/C to recover the money from Oselel and other groups that have abused the funds. "The challenge with the members of these youth groups is that they are near the Sub County before they access the funds. After that; we behave like in-laws", said the CDO of Anyara.
TAC is committed yo conduct Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys for these YLP's from 2016/16FY onwards to determine what accountability issues are affecting the programme and design better approaches for future projects.
Sub Counties in FY 2016/17 budget have have gained a 400% budget increment from an average UGX 60M to around UGX 300M. It is understood that more development work is now being done at Sub County level with relevant control by the District. However key stakeholders at Sub County Level are not farmiliar with the details of this budget especially its prioritized actions. This is thanks to the fact the many Sub Counties did not hold the Budget Conferences as required by the Public Finance Management Act 2015 and the Guidelines issued by the Finance Minister under the Act. In a mini-survey conduct by TAC in the sidelines of the on going training of community structures; all 4 sampled Sub Counties of Serere District namely Atiira, Kadungulu, Pingire and Kateta as well as Katine and Arapai Sub Counties of Soroti District were consistent with the report that no budget conferences were held in the preparation of 2016/17 Budgets.
This trend is a big issue for many reasons: First it is in total disregard of the law and policy guidelines which is in error. Secondly; skipping this conference is a blatant act of disenfranchising the public from the only available space they can use to influence. Thirdly; local democracy is rendered inpossible since lower local councils are not facilitated with the relevant information for monitoring and supervision of service delivery. Forthly; the astronomical increase in budget is shrouded in the secrecy and exposed to real potential of abuse due to lack of budget transparency. Fifthly; someone is simply not doing their job of mobilizing and informing the public of governance processes in the Sub County.
The reasons for the non-holding of this crucial event are varied: Time did not allow, locals and councillors expect allowances to participate in the conference, it is simple to just rely on the district level budget conference and locals confuse the event with other events such as 'religious conferences'. However impressive the reasons for the non compliance; what is clear is that the deliberate omision to hold this conference is illegal and contradictory of policy and practice. The mini survey also discovered that the technical teams in the different Sub Counties were complicit in withholding information about the mandatory requirement to hold the conference from the political class.
TAC has purposed to correct this state of affairs in order to allay the above listed issues. Training is currently ongoing for the locals to gain insight on how to participate in the Sub County Budget Conferences and what value that adds to their Schools, Health Facilities, Roads and other services. The experience has been an eye opener and SMCs, HUMCs, Local Councilors and Opinion leaders are vowing to participate in the new Budgeting Cycle.
The Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) has designated TAC as the Lead CSO for the Eastern and North Eastern Regions for the Budget Consultative Workshops. The assignment for the Lead CSO is to mobilize and engage civil society in preparations for the Budget Consultative Workshops by Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development. The assignment was given to TAC during the 5th August 2016 meeting in Kampala attended by Mr. Okiring Paul the Coordinator of TAC. "Considering how effective TAC was in the last year's Budget Consultative Workshops, TAC has been assigned to lead in this role again for the next budget year" said Mr. Okiring during a debriefing session to the TAC team on 8th August 2016. The CSOs have an opportunity through this TAC led engagement to address government formally on the progress made towards improving service delivery, gaps still exisiting, key learnings from Government implementation of the Public Finance Management Act 2015 and suggested recommendations for improvement. Through the opportunity of the Budget Constultative Workshops that are held regionally; CSOs are able to increase on popular participation in budget management and budget transparency. On this note; all CSOs in the Eastern and North Eastern Region are notified to begin preparations of ideas to be incorporated into the presentation to be made in the consultative workshops. The TAC Advocacy Officer will take lead role in convening and drafting the presentation which should be ready for submission before 20th August 2016.
We stumbled upon a curious discussion by DELTA FM Radio broadcasting on 97.0 in their ‘Okwenyu Kede Delta (Wake up with Delta) morning programme on 8th August 2016. The hosts, Okia Bruno and Joshua Imalingat Mabior were engaging listeners and their online community on the report that; “During the Cabinet Retreat in Kyankwanzi on Sunday, President Museveni tasked Security Minister Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde to take the lead in fighting corruption. The report The ministers, permanent secretaries and members of the NRM central executive committee unanimously endorsed the President’s proposal on account that the Inspector General of Government lacks the capacity to fight corruption because the office is understaffed and under-facilitated’. That if true is a very unconstitutional action that should not pass unchallenged! “Their diagnosis was correct but their drug prescription was flawed” continues the DELTA report and a majority of the comments on the facebook post (<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fdeltaradio.soccom%2Fposts%2F160886621008852&width=500" width="500" height="278" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true"></iframe>) pointed accusing fingers elsewhere as the cause of galloping corruption in Uganda.
For quite some time and even recently; the IGG Justice Irene Mulyagonja has lamented about the disempowerment of the Inspectorate of Government, a constitutional institution, in the proper discharge of its mandate. Much as this might be interpreted to be a routine lament or even a case of a poor-work-man-blaming-their-tools; TAC notes that a lot of the challenges crippling the Inspectorate can be fixed by the relevant administrative, policy and financial interventions. The retreat instead of arrogating themselves power to overshadow a constitutional institution should rather have targeted their well intentioned conversations to more constructive means of ensuring that the IGG delivers her mandate.
Indeed many people will argue that pragmatism should lead in the resolution of this fight against corruption conundrum Uganda finds itself in and that this retreat resolution is sign of the much demanded ‘political will’. On that we also respectfully note that corruption is a governance issue and should be dealt with from the perspective of a quest to improve good governance. Good governance by itself is indicated by the strength of formal institutions and a fierce determination to play by the rules even when s short cut could seem attractive. In that regard; TAC therefore calls for the upholding of Chapter 13 of the Constitution in regard to the Inspectorate of Government. Regional offices need additional staff to clear the backlog and improve on the Inspectorate’s response speed. ‘Political Will’ needs to be demonstrated not in assigning a politician to lead the struggle (that could easily be diverted to political score setting) but in politicians supporting the constitutionally mandated institution to discharge its functions.
So let Lt. Gen Henry Tumukunde focus on the real security issues (killings, refugee upsurge, violent land conflicts etc) so that corruption which has taken on criminal and civil law aspects in our legal regime is left to technical persons who will be able to secure for us untainted convictions. Let not the retreat assume that this is as simple as reassigning a lead agency. If that was their intention; then their work is still undone.