Government of Uganda has been cautioned against ‘tinkering’ with the initial principles on which decentralization was premised.
The notion of decentralization which was accorded prominence by the current NRM government in the 1980s, is slowly diverting from its foundations and achieving lesser of its intended goals.
Makerere University’s Prof Yasin Olum warns that decentralization is being twisted by politicians to advance their personal goals.
“One of the reasons we moved away from centralized government was to promote democratic governance and to eradicate dictatorship at the local level, ” said Prof Olum at a public dialogue held on decentralization in the country at Makerere University on Thursday.
“Sadly today, we are seeing a shift toward corporatization with the creation of such institutions as the KCCA,” he added.
Corporate management of local governments, Olum warned would critically erode democracy and representative governance at the periphery.
“Corporatization will cause democratically elected representatives of people to increasingly depend on bureaucrats and professionals like accountants and lawyers.”
He further elucidated, “KCCA is an executive agency which concentrates on managerialism as the best way of delivering services to the people as opposed to the constructed local state called Kampala.”
KCCA was established in March 2011, replacing the old Kampala City Council (KCC), with the hope of finding last solutions to the various city challenges including potholes, garbage and sewer management, population explosion and traffic jam.
The Authority effectively placed management of Kampala district under direct supervision by central government, with its head (Executive Director) answerable to the cabinet Minister in charge of Kampala. The elected mayor was only left with ceremonial powers.
Dr Olum warned that government was likely to be lured by KCCA’s recent registered successes to introduce similar Authorities to run other local governments such as municipalities.
“We saw government plot to do away with councillors in Kampala, only to be blocked by MPs. At this rate government is busy taking back management of local government, and soon the whole essence of decentralization with be lost.”
A few months after being established, a serious conflict erupted between KCCA’s political and administrative wings culminating into the ultimate disposition of the Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago.
Officials at the Authority say business has been thriving there in his absence.