The Observer (Kampala)

8 April 2014

Uganda: Isn't It Time to Reconsider Ban On Recruitment?

editorial

The auditor general's report for the year ended June 2013 says government has too many vacant positions, citing the ministry of Local Government in particular, where understaffing is reported to be as high as 86%.

Statutory authorities are acutely affected too, according to Auditor General John Muwanga, with understaffing hovering around 38%. The Uganda Police Force is also mentioned among the worst affected institutions, with more than 20,000 jobs apparently vacant.

This state of affairs not only impacts negatively on social service delivery but also denies job opportunities to tens of thousands of youths, thus exacerbating the unemployment problem in the country. Several years ago, the government decided to freeze fresh recruitment, defending the decision as a budget-cutting measure.

But this moratorium has remained in place almost endlessly, although its impact on service delivery has never really been scrutinised, save for the annual Auditor General reports such as this one.

Hopefully when this report goes to Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for debate, the ministries of Public Service and Finance, Planning and Economic Development will provide convincing reasons as to why the recruitment ban remains in place or share insights on how the government plans to address her understaffing challenges.

No one expects all the vacancies to be filled at once, especially given that even the lucky individuals already on the public payroll have for long clamoured for a pay rise without success.

However, Ugandans should reject the notion that the government lacks funds to fill the vacancies; we should demand better prioritization from our leaders instead.

The same Auditor General's report talks of losses amounting to Shs 300bn in different government bodies; without the corruption leading up to such losses and the heavy public administration expenditure, as well as the hefty cost of patronage politics, we would not talk about lack of money.

Not even the cutting of aid by donors should arise because our political leaders have a duty to protect Ugandans from such hazards by being more politically astute.

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