BY VENENSCIAS KIIZA
The minister for presidency, Milly Babalanda has exposed some tricks patriotic government officials can use to win war against graft. She says one of them is to completely isolate the corrupt. And this can be achieved by distancing themselves from any project once corruption is detected. She says the corrupt have a tendency of trying to cover up their thieving manners and make them legitimate by inviting the non-corrupt to either launch, tour or supervise them. And once you do so, the corrupt, when cornered in the future, will use that launch or tour to justify that what they did was right. So, the best way, according to Babalanda, is to deny the corrupt any chance to win. To drive her point home, Babalanda cited an example of the deputy RDC of Kasangati, Yassin Ndidde who recently refused to commission a school due to shoddy works.
“…the only way it can be addressed is by adopting Ndidde’s approach of denying the corrupt any chance to win. This is how corruption will be defeated. If the responsible leaders perform their duties well and carry out routine supervisions; then corruption will be history in this country,” Babalanda said on Thursday, November 18, in her opening remarks during a validation workshop on the (APEX platform), a public policy executive oversight forum.
She further elaborates: “Under the APEX platform where I am the chief supervisor, all government monies in the budget spent on implementing the various projects at national and at district level will be followed up and the corresponding projects supervised. At the local levels, the RCCs, RDCs and deputies are tasked to supervise the projects to their completion and will be individually accountable in cases of corruption and wastage of public resources. Projects are supposed to be commissioned by RCCs/RDCs at the district level as per presidential directive of November 26, 2014. There is no way we should continue reading in the media about incomplete and sub-standard projects commissioned.
ANTIGRAFT BODIES ON SPOT
The dilemma, according to Babalanda, is that even agencies mandated to fight corruption have been infiltrated by thieves.
“Yes, we have anti-corruption agencies, but some of their staff have been compromised and many serious cases that I know of have been closed. This is very disappointing…” she added.
This is a new reform in government that was launched in April this year after being agreed by the cabinet in 2018 and approved by the President.
It provides for the President as its convener to be briefed twice every month on the progress of all the projects being implemented by the government.
This was as a result of a collective Cabinet submission of Policy recommendations by the Office of the President, Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Finance, National Planning Authority and Office of the Attorney General aimed at improving the Public Investment Management System in Uganda.
Consequently, the cabinet directed the Office of the President to fast-track the implementation of this reform in the implementation architecture of development interventions. Under this reform, the Office of the President provides overall leadership in public policy management and promotion of good governance practices for overall improved service delivery. This is in conformity with the goal of the NDP III2 which is “Increased Household Incomes and Improved Quality of Life of all Ugandans.”
This reform was adopted in the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) framework of the Third National Development Plan (NDP III).
Under this reform, both State and Non-State Actors will contribute to the implementation architecture of Government.
BACK TO THE WORKSHOP
The APEX platform inaugural workshop among others discussed the 23 presidential directives issued to the government in 2016. The big discussion focused on how they have been implemented. Stakeholders will discuss the reports and come up with a comprehensive strategy to be used in implementing the 23 directives.
The President among other things directed the Cabinet to address the issue of service delivery decisively, especially in the areas of health care, education and feeder roads among others.
This also explains why the state minister for economic monitoring, Peter Ogwang, has been on a country wide-occasional operational spot visits to check on government on the success of government projects and a lot of rot was exposed.
“When I decided with my brother Hon. Peter Ogwang to sample a few local governments; we discovered tremendous rot in service delivery. But surprisingly, some key politicians and public officers were making endless calls appealing to us to rescue their ‘friends’, ‘relatives’ and junior staff,” Babalanda revealed.
As a chief supervisor, Babalanda highlighted some of the strategies, she thinks if well executed the public will appreciate government services and contribute to smooth implementation of the APEX platform.
She advised all political leaders to regularly appear on radio and TVs to explain government policies, plans, activities and programs to the public. According to the minister, such appearances will silence government critics and empower the public with information to fight corrupt officials and evaluate government performance. In the same line she implored government technocrats to condense the information they give politicians (by not being too technical and complicated) such that it can be easily interpreted and relayed to the general public. “Technocrats should simplify and summarize the materials shared to ease their uptake for those to communicate them. All technical staff including Permanent Secretaries, Directors in government bodies, CAOs, heads of government agencies and heads of department must furnish our local leaders with information on government programs. The RDCs as representatives of government and other government communicators in Ministries, Departments and Agencies should take a center stage in regularly sharing information. The silence in sharing information on the part of technocrats has greatly affected the performance of government and aided corruption,” she stressed.