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OPINION: How Equal Are Equal Opportunities In Uganda?

Growing up in Ocorimongin IDP Camp (Now turned a Trading Center) in the Present Katakwi District inspired the yearning in my heart and among many in our category at the time for equal opportunities. We craved for peace, access to education, health care services and justice.

As peace slowly returned to Teso, there was a paradym shift in opportunity demand. We now focused on equity in opportunities for jobs, Statehouse scholarships, quality education, quality healthcare services and or political appointments as we struggled to have a feel of the National cake.

What then are equal Opportunities?

According to scholars, Equal opportunity arises from the similar treatment of all people, unhampered by artificial barriers or prejudices or preferences, except when particular distinctions can be explicitly justified.

According to this often complex and contested concept, the aim is that important jobs should go to those “most qualified” – persons most likely to perform ably in a given task – and not go to persons for arbitrary or irrelevant reasons, such as circumstances of birth, upbringing, having well-connected relatives or friends, religion, sex, ethnicity, race, caste, or involuntary personal attributes such as disability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Chances for advancement should be open to everybody interested, such that they have “an equal chance to compete within the framework of goals and the structure of rules established”.

The idea is to remove arbitrariness from the selection process and base it on some “pre-agreed basis of fairness, with the assessment process being related to the type of position” and emphasizing procedural and legal means.

Individuals should succeed or fail based on their own efforts and not extraneous circumstances such as having well-connected parents. It is opposed to nepotism and plays a role in whether a social structure is seen as legitimate.

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The concept is applicable in areas of public life in which benefits are earned and received such as employment and education, although it can apply to many other areas as well.

While putting this in context, I came across a NewVision Newspaper advert on Monday12th Feb 2018 for Serene Suites and Hotel – Mutundwe where there were seeking to recruit elligble persons to fill various positions.

Among which they sought to recruit a manager who is should prefferably be a white person and a restaurant manager who is prefferably an Indian. As many were still internalising the meaning, purpose and the impact of such an advert, there came Equal Opportunities Commision of Uganda with a response.

The Officials in their line of duty were out to reprand the crafters of not only discrimative but acaque advert.

They stated and I quote “ Please note that article 21 of the constitution of the republic of Uganda prohibits discrimination among others on the basis of race, colour or ethnic origin. Discrimination on these grounds is also prohibited by several provisions of the Equal Opportunities Commission’s Act 2007 including Section 6 of the employment Act, 2006”

When one interests him/her self to read the Vision of Equal Opportunities Commission, all seems glittering and perfect. It reads “Our vision is to have a just and fair society where all persons have equal opportunity to participate and benefit in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life.

Our role is to assist you to understand your right to equal opportunities and your responsibilities, and to facilitate redress to discrimination. We are committed to fostering a society in which all individuals are equal and are treated with respect and dignity.”

If a citizen scanned across sectors in Uganda, has this vision been achieved? Is it being achieved ? If not what are the major bottlenecks to the achievemnet of this Vision?

Reading President Y.K Museveni’s ten (10) point programme and the Mastered Seed coupled with listening to his famous speeches, one can deduce the major concerns during Obote/UPC of 1980’s. He clearl;y emphasises that the biggests problem in Uganda is ideological disorientation.

He Points out that the NRM government focused more in addressing the question of Nationalism where there is no tribal, religious or any other form of sectarianism.

This is perfect and good. What then is the problem? Why are those entrusted with public offices not exercise strategic intent of the mindset of the leader?

Is Private Sector operating outside the ideology of the leader in power? Has President Museveni raised a cadreship to administer his mindset in matters of policy and management of public offices? Those are questions whose answers may  be found later.

Anyway, back to the serene suite advert, i think the equal opportunity commisiuon should Act more equitably in its operations at all times across the board.

They should act when chinese companies/investors do not provide equal opportunities to Ugandans. We should see them act equitably even in their own Equal Opportunities Commission. We should see them act decisively for equity in public sector opportunities.

Today I read an article in Rep Peper Newspaper where somebody recruited almost a whole clan in OPM refugee management. Isn’t this happening in other offices in public sector?  How equal are equal opportunities then? That’s for you and me to ponder

Augustine Otuko is the NRM Youth Chairman,  Katakwi District

 

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