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Opinion: Does Change Of Political Leaders Lead To Better Service Delivery: The Case Of Kiruhura District

By Agaba Ronald Bills

Famously known as the home district of Uganda’s long serving President, Yoweri Museveni, Kiruhura is a district at crossroads with the experiment of change in political leadership.

Carved out of Mbarara district about 13 years ago with two counties of Kazo and Nyabushozi, the district has had a further sub-division into another county named Kashongi and according to credible information from government, the district will be subdivided into two districts of Kazo and Kiruhura effective June, 2019.  This brings a near-to-marriage relationship enjoyed by Nyabushozi and Kazo counties to a melancholic end.

Unlike most districts, since its inception Kiruhura has enjoyed a 100% change of political leaders at the Member of Parliament and Local Council Five levels.

Kazo County had long serving Minister Hon. Eng. John. M Nasasira replaced by Hon. Bafaki Gordon, Nyabushozi had former minister of Agriculture Hon. Mary Mugyenyi replaced by Col (Rtd) Fred Mwesigye, Two-term Woman MP Hon. Beatrice Rusaniya replaced by Hon. Sheila Mwine, and the founding chairman, Phillip Kamugungunu replaced by Rev Can Katugunda Sam.

The change came with either the incumbents opting out of the race voluntarily or the sharp panga wielded by voters forcing the incumbent out of office through electoral loss.

Since 2016 elections, I have been seeing myriad opinions, sentiments, emotions, rebuttals, postulations, denials, and in several cases outright rubbish, flying around the many social media groups with regard to what they call the biggest political mistake by voters in Kiruhura.

In this article, I will attempt to trigger a conversation on whether the Kiruhura experiment of political turnover has met the expectations of the people? Readers must note that the parliament of Uganda returns only 4 out of 10 MPs each time an electoral circle of 5 years elapses.

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Let us take a microscopic view of education. Has the district of Kiruhura improved the passing rates of pupils at say, Kazo, Kashongi or Kinoni Primary Schools? Public findings from official results by UNEB, show that the said primary schools combined performed better in the 13 years between 1992 and 2005 under the greater Mbarara district compared to new Kiruhura.

On health, to-date, majority of able expectant mothers prefer Kagongo Hospital in Ibanda, Mbarara Referral Hospital in Mbarara and Lyantonde Hospital to Rushere hospital which is the district hospital.

The two examples of service delivery are silent about the extreme increase of private schools and clinics at every corner of the villages as direct alternatives to the failing standards of public institutions to deliver.

For those of you who may have been on a return trip from the moon (or to the Antarctica for that matter), and have thus not caught a whiff of a polarizing debate surrounding the ineptitude of our political class to effectively arrest the crisis of the loss of tens of thousands of cows due to foot and mouth disease here is a sneak peek.

You have anger, frustration and desperation on the side of farmers and excuses, posturing and high handiness in terms of animal markets closures with arrests on the other side from the leadership.

Acaricide resistant ticks have paused the greatest test to the new political class. Dissatisfied farmers continue to look back with nostalgia to the days of Hon. Nasasira and Hon. Mary Mugyenyi both powerful members of the cabinet and Mr. Philip Kamugungunu a close confidant of the president.

With no single Member of Parliament able to catch the eye of the appointing authority for a cabinet slot observers are quick to conclude that the current political leadership lacks the tact, the connections and astuteness to exert pressure on government to act on tick crisis.

As we use Kiruhura district as example of political turnover with little progress in service delivery, we should never doubt that politics matters in delivering services, whether you take the long or the short route to get there.

The writer is a resident of Kazo County.

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