By Guest Writer
OPINION: In a constitutionally mandated establishment under Article 203 and Section 70 of the Local Government Act, there shall be a Resident District Commissioner in every district who shall be appointed by the president.
Such a person shall be a citizen of Uganda with UACE or its equivalent as the minimum academic qualification.
Among the cardinal roles of a Resident District Commissioner shall be to monitor the implementation of central and local government services in a district, act as chairperson of the district security committee, and carry out other functions as may be assigned by the president or prescribed by law.
However, with the creation of more districts, cities, and municipalities, the number of RDCs and their deputies has increased, increasing the burden on taxpayers’ money.
According to the list of RDCs and their deputies appointed on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, there are 147 RDCs, 163 deputy RDCs, and 8 commissioners at the RDC secretariat, totaling 318. According to the 2022–2023 salary structure, each RDC takes home a monthly salary of UGX 2.293.200 and the deputy UGX 1.282.369.
The same structure talks about Assistant RDCs bagging UGX 817.216. In addition, each of them is entitled to a car and other allowances like fuel, among others, plus an escort. This is one of the dangers to our slipping economy, especially when the work load is far less and thus not viable.
There is basically duplication of work at the district between the RDC office and the district chairperson, CAO, and DISO. Their synonymy crowds the administration structure and leads to more confusion.
The RDC nearly does the same job as a district chairperson, and in most cases, they end up in bitter clashes. There are a few districts with good relations between RDCs and chairpersons.
We have also seen that infighting between RDCs and their deputies is astronomical because bosses render their deputies dormant with less delegation, leaving them wobbling.
This relates to the question: are the roles filled in between the two clearly understood? It is also assumed that some have engaged in Corruption and embezzlement where they connive with the district chairpersons, CAOs, Service commissions, and other technical staff to steal, derailing government projects and increasing shoddy work.
Let the government remove the peripheral office of deputy RDC and increase remunerations for one RDC in order to motivate them and focus on their work other than looking for deals in the district. In the event that the RDC is unable to perform his duties because of unavoidable circumstances, he should delegate them to the DISO.
Additionally, there should be at least a permanent staff member in each RDC office who can bridge any gaps in the day’s activities. It would even be better to assign 500.000 people per RDC, which would require us to assign only 96 according to the estimated 48 million population.
To achieve this, quality in the appointment of RDCs must be emphasized. We have seen appointments being majorly political as rewards to regime cronies, in particular those serving regime apologists without questioning and coupled with too much lobbying.
Many people with questionable academic qualifications and less intellectual and technical ability to challenge district chairpersons, the CAO, and the technical staff have been appointed. Appointments should target individuals who can exhibit a high level of personal and official dignity, knowledge, and intellect about government policies and ongoing programs.
A person with such qualities can easily identify frailties in the district, advise the chairperson and technical staff, and also sensitize the people on programs and policies he knows properly.
I would suggest that, like the ministers and other high-ranking officers appointed by the president, even RDCs should be vetted by parliament in order to improve quality in that office. It would also cease to be seen as a dumping ground for unsuccessful politicians and regime sycophants.
This would motivate them to perform their day-to-day duties with ease, like assisting the LG members in the preparation of local development plans, local investment programs, and project proposals for possible funding.
I want to commend the current minister for the presidency and her entire group for having the tenacity to impose strict measures in the administration of RDCs, much as the whole country was awed by the quality of some appointments.
She has exercised bravery by making transfers at any time as a conflict resolution measure among bickering RDCs and to boost weak areas. Similarly, she has embarked on joint engagements with RDCs to deepen key government socio-economic priorities like PDM. As much as I think PDM is an abstract program, she has done her best and deserves credit.
Clean and reduce this office by looking at quality output instead of quantity, which is straining our resources for nothing.
The writer is Mubiru George, a Jinja-based researcher and NRM mobilizer.
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