BY STEVEN MASIGA
All the RDCs are recruited by the appointing authority (the central government/president) and just like mega phones, when they shout, both the centre and local governments will hear.
Through RDCs, the government’s eyes and ears are everywhere and any sound made can be overheard by the centre because they can be likened to telescreens connected to the central system.
Their new supervisor—Presidency minister Milly Babalanda who is also a celebrated columnist of this newspaper brings a lot of energy and experience into the office having worked as a deputy RDC around 2014. She should be supported.
Slumbering on the job or assigning strangers critical responsibilities by RDCs will now be a thing of the past.
There are a number of administrative functions cast onto RDCs by the constitution and the local Government Act. These range from monitoring government programs to executing advisory roles to the district political leadership and standing in for the head of state at various functions in their localities. They have a duty to sensitise the wananchi on a number of government programs and finally drawing the attention of Inspectorate of Government and other ministries on issues of concern from the district.
Broadly put they have many tasks onto their menu as chairpersons of the security committee of their districts and more recently as Emyooga and Covid-19 chairpersons.
Ritah Nawumunge who works closely with RDCs on account of her work as Emyooga country coordinator says she has found many of them very useful as chief promoters of the fund in the districts.
Many RDCs I normally talk to give a mixed reaction on how they relate with the local leadership. They accuse them of being selfish and vice versa—the district leadership see them as corrupt persons who connive with land grabbers to frustrate development.
But we must give credit to some. The senior presidential advisor on Bugisu Barnard Mujasi says the two RCCs for Mbale city have impressed him so far and wishes even others can replicate that.
Excellent performers have attracted the eye of the appointing authority and they have been appointed to better positions. This indicates that being an RDC is not an end in itself, it may be the beginning of better things in life.
The fact that Premier Robinah Nabbanja, Presidency minister and MAAIF’s Frank Tumwebaze are former RDCs, shows that not all are bad performers.
RDCs have been accused generically by their supervisors of deserting their work stations and occasionally assigning strange individuals who are not even part of the core staff to do work for them.
We cannot move away from the fact that a number of RDCs lack managerial and leadership skills including basic legal skills. Thus many should undertake legal skills in law at least a certificate in law, or certificate in public administration including a diploma where necessary in the field of administration.
This explains why sometimes, technical people underrate them on account of the above.
Many RDCs I have interacted with lack legal knowledge and many tasks cast on them through the LGA Act and the constitution are not fully executed.
They are actually at 50/50.
Mbale District was at one point in time a breeding ground of corruption of all sorts and culprits were protected by the RDC; thank God Minister Ogwang (Economic monitoring unit) is arresting them.
Some RDCs who honestly execute their tasks well, the survey established, are likely to receive bad press. That is why it is imperative to cross check any briefing from districts / security as it may have gaps in its authenticity.
Many RDCs who have resisted being bribed by the corrupt have seen their tenure come to a halt much quicker and are living ordinary lives as either farmers or petty traders hawking chai in established places.
There is also poor pay. An RDC on average is paid about shs2m and with now robust inflation in the country, it is insufficient. This may tempt them into corruption. Some are witch-hunted by fellow district administration officials. Also, many RDCs are appointed by the president but are not directly supervised by him. Some ex-RDCs have pointed fingers at some ministers as responsible for their sacking but not the president.
District councils are also another biggest liability in the implementation of government programs. Whereas the PPDA and the leadership code Act discourages staff and politicians in the district from taking on contracts as contractors, many local government councilors and district chairpersons are in charge.
An RDC who questions this mal administration is witch-hunted. Equally many law enforcers like the police cast lukewarm attitude to instructions of RDCs. A source in security once told me that some RDCS are too bossy and want to please the gallery. My friend Wilson Watira, former chairman Bududa District local government, told me that many RDCs assume powers they don’t have, a view shared by many ordinary Ugandans.
After exit from public service many of them live very miserable lives since they are not pensionable. They lack immunity before courts and yet many of the acts they are accused of are committed in the course of duty. They carry individual liability instead of the state being vicariously liable.
The writer is a researcher from. Mbale Tel 0706655811.
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