20 February 2013

Uganda: Assist Ministers to Develop Own Places of Origin


A close analysis about ministerial appointments shows that there is at least one minister appointed from every district in Uganda. Secondly, that about 98% of ministers are also Members of Parliament with respective constituencies they represent.

Now, if we are to go by the notion that ministerial appointments are one of the ways of sharing or distributing the national cake among the different parts of the country, then ministerial appointees should reflect that in the form of development in their places of origin or birth. This can be executed by responding to the areas' most pressing challenges and demands, lest, we will be made to understand that ministerial positions don't necessarily benefit the people of the beholder but the minister and appointing authority's interests.

For instance, why should the schools in Teso sub-region continuously feature among the worst performing in the country when their own breed is in charge of the education docket? Or, why should other districts benefit from the elderly fund when the ministers in charge of that docket's own elderly citizens are suffering? Why should the people of Kanungu complain about the state of bad roads in their area when the Government's bigwigs come from there? Charity should begin at home.

There have also been instances when ministers are given offices that may not necessarily address their people's most pressing needs. For instance, (With all due respect) Of late, according to media reports, Bulambuli district's most pressing need is vulnerability to bad weather that leads to excessive flooding during rainy seasons and the bad state of roads yet their own breed is given the ministry of energy. Such scenarios have been worsened by a minister being a Member of Parliament and they become so occupied with national duties and hardly get time to consult the people they represent on the issues they want to be addressed. At the end of day this affects their efficiency in either of the two offices.

Therefore, ministerial appointments should always focus, not only on who should be picked from which district, but also on the needs of certain areas and give preference to the locals to address them through the executive arm of government because they automatically or naturally have better experience about their issues.

Secondly, where ministers are made to hold offices that may not necessarily benefit or address the problems in their areas, networks should be made with those in charge to deliberately ensure that there is progress in their areas of origin. There should also be deliberate target goals set for each minister to accomplish for their places of origin despite the portfolio held by one. Similarly, a fund can be set a side to enable ministers deliberately develop their own places of origin. This is because "limited funds" has often been cited as a challenge to many in the executive.

Charity begins at home, and so should development be. Of what use are ministerial appointments if the locals in the area will not benefit from it? The appointing authority should also understand that ministerial responsibility comes with extra responsibilities that may reduce the time for consulting one's own constituents, and as such, there should be a way of assisting them to benefit their people in terms of social, political and economic development.

The writer is the MP Ntenjeru South

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