Museveni: Decentralization Best Policy, But There Is Need To Address Bottlenecks


drug geneva;”>He noted that the National Resistance Movement (NRM) introduced the decentralization system of government to strengthen the local government as a way of empowering communities to participate in the development process.

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Museveni who is also the Patron of the Commonwealth local government forum, said this was a great way of working to find solutions to the challenges facing them as a community than relying on the center for solutions.

He said this on Tuesday at the opening the 7th Commonwealth Local Government conference describing the local governance and the decentralization of power from the center to the local governance as the most important tool for service delivery and development planning.

The four day conference which is running under the theme “Putting local government at the heart of development” is currently taking place at Speke resort Munyonyo in Kampala.

The conference has attracted participants from several Commonwealth countries all over the world.

Museveni pointed out that a very serious distortion was beginning to emerge in the decentralisation process.

“This is the distortion of demanding for too small districts and lower administrative units without any logic other than wanting to create political jobs such as positions for LCV Chairman, Woman MP among others. Three principles guided the rationale for the creation of districts: the need for ending group marginalization, too large administrative areas and difficult geography (mountains, Islands, trans-Nile districts). Where those three factors are absent, the case for new districts weakens greatly,” he said.

He added that they have now put down some criteria for district creation including; group identity that needs to be protected against marginalization; difficult geography; and too large an administrative area.

“If these three factors are absent, then, we should not have a district that is smaller than 20 miles radius, no sub-county that is less than 3.5 miles, etc. Otherwise, decentralisation is the best policy provided these bottlenecks are removed,” he said.

Museveni further affirmed that for effectiveness and the success of local governance in service delivery and causing development, local governments need to be led by patriotic and ideologically clear and clean leaders noting that if they are not, the local government can be even more dangerous than leaving power at the centre.

He said that lack of ideological orientation by some leaders can breed social problems such as sectarianism which will great create discontent and disharmony affecting the good use and intentions of the local government thus retarding development.

“For the effectiveness of a local government, there is a need to have an educated population which can be able to vote in place the right people and demand accountability from their leaders thus the need for universal education,” he added.

The President noted that in the implementation of the decentralization system of government, the NRM did not change the colonial government structures but rather added the elected leaders to the existing civil servants to safeguard the interests of the electorate and mitigate the possible abuse of office by the civil servants.

He further challenged the local government to add wealth creation on their programs noting that emphasizing service delivery alone was not enough to transform societies. He said that local governments should be the main advocate of wealth creation since majority of the population live in the country side under the local government administration.

As he addressed the delegates, the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa said that his government attaches a lot of importance to the local governments in the running and implementing of all crucial government programs.

He said that local governance is a historical system of governance that is entrenched in the traditional administration of the people of Sri Lanka. He added that nearly 70 percent of the people in his country live in villages and if the government is to implement any meaningful program that can cause development; they use and empower the local governments that have proximity to that big population.

Rajapaksa, however, noted that for the local governments to be successful they must work and follow well designed laws and frameworks that must be designed by the centre.

He noted that if well implemented local governance can ensure and guarantee equitable development of society. He said that local governance is the most functional expression of democracy and democratic practices.

The Secretary General of the East African Community, Dr. Richard Sezibera thanked the local governments of East Africa for supporting the EAC integration process and appealed to all EA countries to remove all barriers that affect free movement of goods and services to allow business to go on.

He called for the putting in place a gender sensitive environment to enable the 70 million East African women utilize their potential and contribute to regional development.

The Local Government Minister Adolf Mwesige described the local government in Uganda as the engine of development as it emphasizes development from the grassroots.

He further called upon Commonwealth partner states to work together and forge new ideas on how to ensure effective local governance in line with the Commonwealth principals of democracy and good governance.


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