UPC full texts on OPM-Iron-sheets scandal, LGs dilemma 

(Last Updated On: 23 February 2023)

The recent exposure that top NRM government ministers have received yellow iron sheets meant for the poor and the most vulnerable of people has received wider condemnations with those condemning it asking for them to talk. 

A beneficiary like Rebecca Kadaga, minister for East African Community Affairs and Kamuli district Woman MP, has spoken, saying she requested the sheets to help her constituents. 

Dozens more are still silent. UPC party has joined dozens of Ugandans calling for the beneficiaries who are already rich to be investigated. The party wants special attention accorded to Karamoja. 

But first, here is how the party spokesperson, Arach Oyat Sharon started. 

“All along, the government has been working towards fast-tracking the processes of devolution of power from central to local governments and their councils (districts, counties, sub-counties, parishes and villages) since late 1980s, 1990s to date.”

“Local governments have both their own general and peculiar challenges. They are underfunded by the central government and victims of budgetary cuts that hamper their capacity to ensure good and proper service delivery to their people.” 

The UPC mouthpiece said recruitment and retention of man-power are very hard as local governments compete for workers from the open labour market. At times, she added that they are polarised towards some form of favouritism and nepotism, which undermines the entire concept of devolution of powers. 

In some cases building institutional capacity for local government is still a pipe dream, and this presents its own challenges too!

On the iron sheets… 

The current iron sheets saga in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), which was meant to be destined for Karamoja sub-region, simply reveals that a lot needs to be done to properly streamline issues of local governments and make them stronger as well as responsive, such that assistance from central government is well utilised and can easily be accounted for. 

Also read: Recalling posho, iron sheets scandals and political corruption in Uganda

If an area like Karamoja contributes to the nation’s economy, then a deliberate effort must be made to retain some of the income to redevelop the area in question. 

The nature of our resources demands proper planning as some are non-renewable. This is the case with minerals like gold, marble, copper, cobalt, and oil. In the case of Karamoja, it is endowed with non–renewable and renewable resources, but it is hugely underdeveloped as part of the colonial legacy. 

The efforts to reverse the under-development are always held backwards, due to endless challenges that besiege local governments. It is also worth noting that Karamoja lies in the heart of the cattle-rustling belt which generates security issues as well. 

Further, the sub-region gets rains in a pattern that makes it drought-prone, too unpredictable and unreliable, yet it has a huge potential for livestock and wildlife development.

Therefore, the saga of diverted iron sheets destined for Karamoja is a polite reminder to the central government that local governments need to evolve, be responsive and sustainable. This is one of the basic ways to ensure rural development which demands prioritisation of local governments’ concerns.

By Milton Emmy Akwam & Arach Oyat Sharon 

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