By Emmanuel Mwaka Lutukumoi
Martin Luther King once said, “Our lives begin to end the moment we keep silent on things that matter!” Following the news that I have been appointed RDC of Lira, it is my duty to break my silence. I need to give a solid context to the decision I have made to decline the appointment.
When in a surprise move in October 2016, I was transferred from acting RDC Lira to Deputy RDC Kitgum, people literally cried. Over 50 vehicles full of Lango brothers, sisters escorted me to Kitgum. I could not hold back my tears.
The people held farewell parties in churches and homes for me. They sang with me Lira waa. We were all in tears. I loved them and they loved me! That’s why I faced a very hard decision to make when news of the appointment reached me. And yet I have to say no thanks!
“Please, please, please come back, we told the President we need you here, you did great here and we will make a big welcome for you” says Jane, one of the philanthropists helping children for Peace Uganda; “I am very excited!” says one youth leader I worked with Mr. Ocen Tony, Former Guild President of All Saints University, Lira.
These are the words from the people I served; I made the RDC’s office a ‘People’s office’ not the ‘RDC’s office’ which is fully guarded!
Most RDCs are called Afandes! I demilitarized the office. I helped build and develop a district integrity promotion forum we initiated with Hon George Odongo now in EALA; a forum that set platforms in villages and sub counties; each platform has a ‘People’s Parliament;’ they monitor all government programmes and report shoddy work to my office with support of NGOs in Lira; and I as RDC take action! We recovered billions of stolen money and compelled contractors who did shoddy work to redo the work.
We critically and vigilantly monitored all programmes from class room building, to health centers. This put us at logger heads with some business people and politicians who would want you dead! Besides the daily routine work, I put civil servants on their toes to work and be accountable.
I would shift my offices to sub counties to monitor well. This also helped me mediate individual, clan and family conflicts.
The RDC under Article 203; has the mandate to directly report to line Ministries virtually every development and gaps in any services government in the district, whether, health, education, infrastructure, trade, culture, Agriculture even weather the pattern! The RDC monitors crop production and must ensure there is proper physical and food security.
I set a system of community security neighborhood watch. This helped to avert crimes and many threats on security. I updated the media frequently on misuse of funds. Most times the office of RDC is a huge layer of corruption.
Some corrupt leaders at district and even at head quarters connive to curtail timely reports. Some are without the sophistication to handle temptation of corruption given the fact that they are ill facilitated.
The office bloats government and must be restructured and appointment streamlined. The RDCs trade a very thin line, between assigned and implied duties. Assigned by the constitution and President and implied as in a public services, to serve impartially.
I ensured that the opposition had a fair treatment in election time and refrained from projecting my office as an extension of NRM from opposition perspective so they didn’t under mind my office. I worked for a level playing field for all players. I even improved NRM primaries. I caused arrest of prominent NRM leaders for election malpractice in 2016.
This is hard for most RDCs who feel timid! But you are there to improve service delivery. I suggest that the office be upgraded to the level of CAOs’ qualification with research assistance and better facilitation, and selection must be based on academic qualification and proper lifestyle audit.
If RDCs know their roles, corruption will have no place and layers broken! Service delivery will be enhanced, with upgraded democracy and good governance with accountability.
Uganda loses over 500Bn shillings or 300 million $ yearly or more. The districts are the mother of these vices. Because RDCs are ill facilitated, they end up being neutral between Law and disorder.
They are pocketed and gerrymandered by rich thieves. Uganda’s economy has lagged behind East Africa with now 27 billion $ from 25$bilion GDP though; an improvement of 2% against Kenya’s over 80bn $ GDP.
The Budget is out, but how will our budget be implemented? I always say, the biggest challenge to any development is implementation. The RDC’s can do this but, though I bet; my suggestion gives alternative option.
This is from the back drop of selection criteria, where even those who deserve not end up there as cadres and instead of serving the wanainchi, they join the corruption wagon, of getting rich first with untamed appetite for quick wealth! Most engage in Land conflicts where they can easily grab land of the helpless poor.
I am happy with the new Secretariat set for RDCs. This is good because, most reports, very good reports on what to add, ends up in corridors of office of the President. Many suggest that this office be scrapped. I say no but restructure!
I served already as RDC of Lira and we set a system with my colleague Hon Odongo George who only served for a little while as he joined headquarters research desk. From 2015 to 2016 October I was in charge.
I know what RDCs can do; in Kitgum, I was a deputy and didn’t do much except initiating Kiti Naa campaigns of greening and cleaning Kitgum like Lira waa in Lira; Kitgum has few trees, let the new RDC embark on that.
Yes; if it’s to be it’s up to us. When I saw my name on front Page appointed! I said, what will be my response? The politics in me said, you are no longer in government; but felt I must give my views to government and Uganda.
RDCs can improve service delivery; they are there with the people, they are the first responders, the first line of attack against poor service delivery, corruption and insecurity.
They are appointed in line with the constitution, you want it or not; they will be there! Let them be our partners but not foes or fiends but friends!
On my appointment, I respectfully decline!
It’s a hard decision to make because the people are calling. I appreciate the good gesture of being chosen by the appointing authority out of millions. I am also not deaf to the people’s demand to go back in a district I served for 4 years!
As RDC! It’s a huge vote of confidence; but unfortunately I am no longer in the country and have my personal strategic goals to accomplish. I know I will be ready to serve my country and be a solution to the gaps in its leadership and governance that may exist.
I implore the RDCs newly appointed to do it for Uganda as mandated by the constitution. I am proud to have served Ugandans as Deputy RDC/ Acting RDC of Lira for three years and Deputy in Kitgum without any taint on my integrity. My eyes are in tears for Lango but God will make away; one day I will come home.
Mwaka Emmanuel Lutukumoi
Former Deputy RDC Lira/Kitgum,
The author is a Ugandan Scholar and Author based in the United States of America.