BY VENENSCIAS KIIZA
Mid-morning on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, President Yoweri Museveni carried out a groundbreaking reshuffle of Resident District Commissioners (RDCs), Resident City Commissioners (RCCs) and their Deputies. The reshuffle capped a period of hoaxes and fake lists that circulated widely on social media. There had also been a series of behind-the-scenes shuffling of RDCs since last year when Ms. Milly Babalanda took over as Minister for the Presidency.
Last month’s reshuffle was the first major one since President Museveni was reelected to office last year. It was the first of its kind where over 50 RDCs, RCCs and Deputies were sacked.
From our security sources, we have established several reasons why Museveni took the bold move at this particular time and here is a briefing. Sources with the knowledge of what is going on told us that some of the sacked officials are under investigation. Arrest and possible prosecution has not been ruled out.
Some of the sacked RDCs have been involved in illegal land evictions. Reports have been filed to the President by the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Judith Nabakooba, and State Minister for Lands, Dr. Sam Mayanja, and Members of Parliament accusing them of involvement in land evictions, sometimes violent. Many cases are under investigation and the head of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit, Brig. Gen. Henry Isoke, could swing into action any time. Western Uganda and Buganda were most affected.
Some knifed RDCs messed up Emyooga cash by overseeing the creation of ghost groups where they indulged in a cash bonanza. The Minister of State for Micro-Finance, Mr. Haruna Kasolo, wrote a dossier on this. In one of the meetings he had with the President, Kasolo named some of the errant RDCs. This information was communicated widely in the power circles. The then Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ms. Anita Among, directed legislators to do ground assessment of the Emyooga program in their constituencies. Under pressure from MPs, some RDCs, like the one of Buvuma, couldn’t defend themselves in public hence the sacking. Some also reportedly diverted facilitation which is partly responsible for the slow pace of success of the Emyooga program.
Some sacked RDCs were found deeply involved with corrupt cartels in the districts yet they are charged with cracking down on such cartels which milk government funds. According to a dossier compiled by the Minister of State for Economic Monitoring, Mr. Peter Ogwang, after conducting a monitoring swoop in districts in the East, Central and West, RDCs had failed to supervise and monitor government projects leading to loss of billions of shillings due to the connivance of RDCs with Local Government officials and technocrats. Misuse of funds, fraud, corruption and shoddy work among others highlighted Ogwang’s report. It is after that dossier that Museveni called for a “performance audit” as the best way to detect and weed out the corrupt. Many fell short of the standard when audited.
Some RDCs were found not only to have failed to protect wetlands from degradation but they were personally involved in encroaching on them and building there or cultivating. They have been leaving the rich to destroy wetlands after being bribed.
Some have been extorting favors in monetary and other terms from investors, contractors and NGOs. These have in turn complained to investigators.
One of the roles of RDCs is to sensitise the public and promote government programs using media platforms. They were even offered free slots on electronic media. However, many were found to be poor communicators who failed to utilise the free airtime to defend and promote Government programs. Some are accused of selling off the free airtime to NGOs and private companies while others are arrogant when on air which dents the image of the Government and leaves the public guessing on where to find services they need and lost on how to give feedback from the ground. Others were said to be poor mobilisers.
This is partly blamed for the poor communication strategy on government programs which leaves the opposition with ammunition to work anger against the regime. Reports fall short of accusing RDCs of working for the opposition.
Some RDCs were found incompetent with no time to be at their stations. Some are regulars in Kampala for no apparent reason, security briefs pointed out.
Moreover, they also had poor working relations with technocrats and security agencies. “An RDC who cannot get along with security operatives cannot last,” a source added. Some DPCs have accused RDCs of corrupt tendencies and failure to provide guidance to District Security Committees (DSCs) which they head. Museveni is known not to take chances with security and had to act on such negligent representatives.
Some RDCs were found to lack moral authority to fight corruption after mismanaging Covid-19 funds. They were described as money-minded and not worth their positions.
Some knifed RDCs also reportedly harboured political ambitions of contesting in their preferred constituencies, some of which were in the districts they led. This caused conflict of interest as they couldn’t make decisions that affected their supporters. Others had no time to be in office. A decision was taken to relieve them of their duties and leave space for those with time to serve. President Museveni is said to have directed that those who have political ambitions should be left to do their own things. Others were often sickly and unable to execute their duties.
This newspaper has however established that this category is being considered to take up posts in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) where work is less taxing.
Meanwhile, when the reshuffle was announced, amidst the celebrations, some leaders and members of the public ganged up against Minister Babalanda. They were unhappy with the lineup.
It has been established that the annoyance and attacks are from dismissed RDCs, RCCs and Deputies who had turned themselves into political assistants of some politicians, real estate dealers and other persons with say. Such circles are panicking because the new crop of appointees will likely disrupt their activities like illegal evictions and abuse of government programs. In the North, actors who mismanaged the Balaalo issues and looked on as natural forests were destroyed were caught off guard. Others are those who have been helping landlords hound and evict bibanja holders irregularly.
Those who have been stealing funds in the local governments are afraid because most appointees are youthful with energy to run after anyone and bring them to book. Others have a strong media background with which they will expose the cabals and fight back if attacked.
We also have it on good authority that many influential people and leaders recommended their supporters for appointment yet slots were few. This left a large number of them in the cold and heaping blame on Babalanda who officially takes responsibility for her docket. However, from our sources, President Museveni used security agencies and the NRM Secretary General, Mr. Richard Todwong, to come up with the list.
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