BY VENENSCIAS KIIZA
In the wake of terror attacks, President Yoweri Museveni has issued strict instructions to the Resident District/City Commissioners (RDCs/RCCs) and District Health Officers (DHOs) regarding the fight against insecurity and COVID-19. The president issued the new instructions during a cabinet meeting at State House on Monday evening and the resolutions were communicated to concerned stakeholders by Presidency minister Milly Babalanda during a zoom meeting held Tuesday 16 November, 2021.
Regarding the ongoing terror, the president directed RDCs (being the chairpersons of the district security committees) to reach out to the communities up to the village level with message of vigilance and education about this scare, which he said is intended to just plant fear in the hearts of Ugandans and to cause the government to panic and get derailed. He directed RDCs to compel all building owners to install metal detectors and those who can afford to have CCTV cameras on their properties. “The public should know that the police force is quite small at 60,000. These cannot man everywhere, yet involving the army may not be to the best taste of many Ugandans. We all need to be vigilant and to play our parts in defeating this common enemy,” Museveni observed. Given that refugees running away from the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC instability may pose a security threat here if they are not well screened, RDCs who are in the border districts have been directed to take keen interest in this matter. “There should be a thorough check up of everyone entering. If it is possible you can ask for the support of the Police Counter Terrorism Unit to help you.”
The president is also not happy that RDCs are allowing bars and discotheques to operate 24/7 and cited Kitgum district.
In Kampala Metropolitan, the president has directed the RCC and the Deputy RCCs to compile a list of the bars that operate 24/7 and whose owners were said to be untouchables. The president is also concerned about renewed political gatherings by the opposition, according to Babalanda; and she has been tasked to caucus with Ministers of Security and Internal Affairs and come up with guidance on how to manage such gatherings, going forward.
“This is a big security concern more so when we are still grappling with spontaneous bombs being planted everywhere and a threat of a third wave of COVID -19.”
Under the new directives, all RDCs/ RCCs and DHOs have been ordered to conduct routine mobilization and sensitization programs on radio and TV every Wednesday and Sunday. The officials have specifically been directed to appear at 8 am after the news every Wednesday and 8 pm every Sunday to mobilize the public to scale up vaccination numbers.
They are required to read out to the public the places where they should go for their vaccinations and this should be done consistently until the President advises otherwise.
The RCCs/RDCs have been told to sit with the Media Houses in their respective districts to secure this time. The Minister for Information and National Guidance will also write to the UCC to communicate this directive to the radio owners.
“Therefore, you are hereby directed; starting from tomorrow Wednesday November 17, 2021 to appear on radio/TV stations in your respective districts to mobilize the masses to go for COVID vaccinations without fail. You are also required to monitor performance of the exercise and update us on a daily basis,” Babalanda stressed on behalf of the president.
Although vaccination has been identified as a key factor in the fight against the pandemic, misinformation and resistance from the masses have been a big challenge.
During the most recent Presidential address, President Museveni dismissed the narrative that people had shunned the mass vaccination against the scourge, rather stating that it’s been due to insufficient sensitization and mobilization.
Museveni then asked RDCs, DHOs, and Chief Administrative Officers to scale up their efforts in demystifying public fears over the suitability of the jabs to human health.
BALALO SETTLERS IN NORTHERN UGANDA
To solve this issue for once and all, the president has ordered RDCs/RCCs in Northern Uganda to ensure that all the illegal balalo settlers Leave in Northern Uganda within 60 days. He also recently wrote a letter over the same. In a letter dated November 2 to the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja, Museveni described the herdsmen as illegal migrants whose animals remain a persistent problem to the farming communities in the north, specifically in the Acholi sub-region.
“Those Balaalo should be given two months to leave the whole north unless they prove that they fulfill these minimum conditions; lease or buy land but also have it fenced very securely before the introduction of cattle thereon and also with water within the land.”
To enforce his directive, Museveni named a three-man committee of Gen David Muhoozi (State minister of Internal Affairs), Bwogo Engola and Col Bright Rwamirama (State Minister for Agriculture in-charge of Animal Husbandry).
The RCCs/RDCs have been directed to engage with the balalo in their respective districts to implement this directive. Two Commissioners from the RDC Secretariat have also been assigned to ramp up the efforts to ensure that the exercise is well mobilized and supervised.
During the same meeting, Museveni, through Babalanda, blamed RDCs for failing to execute their duties due to the “I don’t care attitude” and also for lacking a deeper understanding of their roles.
She went on to remind them of an August 22, 2021, letter where the president blamed Ministers and Permanent Secretaries for neglecting their duties in guiding the district staff in matters of service delivery.
On this note, Babalanda applauded state minister for economic monitoring, Peter Ogwang and the technical team at the Office of the President led by the Secretary Office of the President Haj. Yunus Kakande who are implementing the presidential directive of August 22, 2021 on how to revamp service delivery in local governments.
This is how she makes her point: “I want to publicly apologize to the appointing authority and to the people of Uganda, that we have had weaknesses in supervising our staff. This is highlighted in the findings of Hon. Ogwang’s monitoring tour of Busoga sub-region which affirms H.E the President’s observations about negligence of duty by Ministers and Permanent Secretaries. It is shameful that the RDCs/RCCs who are government representatives and chief communicators have not been seeing the rot in their districts. As your supervisor, I appeal to you to wake up and understand your roles because you will be held to account for the rot identified in your districts as the chief supervisor of government programs. H.E the President is very keen on this matter and a decision has been taken on how to address this gap.
How can you be in office and you fail to manage or report a single corruption case and instead a minister from Kampala visits your district and uncovers dozens of cases of rot?”
On the issue of Chief Administrative Officers refusing to share information on government programs, Babalanda said the RDCs have a mandate to whip them into line by arresting and sending some to jail. She said the presidential directive of June 9, 2013 empowers them.
“With effect from January 2022, we are not going to entertain any excuses of RCCs/RDCs failing to do their work with reason that you do not have information from the CAOs and Town Clerks. We have registered complaints about RCC/RDCs using excessive force and undermining the CAOs. This is unacceptable and we are planning early next year a two-week ideological orientation training for all RCCs, RDCs and deputies. This training will help us to address all these gaps identified,” she expounded.
MOBILIZATION AND SENSITIZATION
On top of other duties, Babalanda reminded RDCs of their role—to popularize and defend government policies— by their virtue as NRM government representatives in their respective districts.
“I therefore appeal to all of you to be keen and to read all statements issued by H.E the President, the Ministers, Heads of Department and Agencies of government. Please analyze them, understand them and inform the public. The Chief Administrative Officers should task the District Information Officers to appear alongside the RCCs/RDCs during the radio programs. Why do we continue paying District Information Officers salaries when they are irrelevant? The public is increasingly hating the government due to lack of information which is supposed to be given by the District Information Officers. Comrades, you will realize the importance of unconditionally serving your government when we lose power to bad elements. We will all be treated equally. We need to do things that will increase our popularity with the people.
Public Officers continue to disassociate with the NRM forgetting that their wages are paid by the NRM government which some of them hate. How do you expect the government to raise your salaries when you are neglecting your duties and giving room to big time corruption?” she concluded.
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