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Manifesto Review: Museveni, 4 Other Presidential Candidates Pledge To Cut Size of Government

Members of Parliament in a recent plenary session Chaired by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah.

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Five presidential candidates have promised to reduce the size of public administration in a bid to cut down government expenditure if they are elected into the country’s number one office in next year’s presidential election.

Ugandans will go to the polls on 14th January 2020 and choose the next president from the eleven candidates nominated by the Electoral Commission (EC).

However, the country public administration expenditure is alarming with an ever increasing number of administrative units which all come with a huge budget. Parliament is another area to look at. Currently it has 457 members including 12 ex-officials and the coming Eleventh Parliament is expected to have a total of 528 members. Each MP gets a personal gross of at least Two Billion Shillings over their five year term. This does not even include other "facilitation" sh2m per day spent on travel outside or an inflation "compensation" at the end of the five years that last time (2016) amounted to over sh100 million per MP.

On the other hand, the current Cabinet has 32 cabinet Ministers and 48 Ministers of State not mentioning the several departments and agencies. 

Uganda Radio Network- URN has reviewed the available manifestos of different presidential candidates in regard to their Governance and Public Administration aspirations aspirations and four of them pledge to have in place a lean government with minimal expenditure.

The manifestos reviewed include that of the National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential flag bearer Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, Independent presidential candidates Nancy Linda kalembe, Fred Mwesigye and Gen. (Rtd) Henry Tumukunde Kakurugu. Also reviewed, is the manifesto of the incumbent President Yoweri Museveni  who is seeking a sixth elected term in office.

Fred Mwesigye In his manifesto, Independent Candidate Fred Mwesigye dedicates his first chapter to reduction of public administrative expenditure and unreasonable financial loss.

“In order to reduce government expenditure, the reckless loss of public funds, and to have sufficient funds allocated to the implementation of policies that will spur socio-economic transformation, I intend to eliminate presidential advisors and rely on ministry or departmental technical personnel. When deemed necessary, I shall engage a third party for an opinion on a relevant or particular issue to promote citizen participation in governance,” reads part of the manifesto.

He further pledges to establish an efficient and effective cabinet of only 21 ministers and 7 ministers of state, introduce reforms that will reduce districts and constituencies to 62, prohibit non-essential travel for public servants and emphasize value for money in procurement.

Mwesigye also seeks to eliminate institutional mandate overlap by eliminating the undertaking of similar or complimentary services by government institutions.

Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Mwesigye’s intentions are not far different from those of NUP’s presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu. He says that his party’s primary goal is to establish people-centered governance since progress and different projects in the country have been undermined by poor governance where corruption and incompetence are persistent.

Kyagulanyi critiques that after 35 years of President Museveni’s leadership, Uganda still struggles to provide basic capabilities like access to primary education and health while enhanced capabilities like specialized medical treatment, secondary and tertiary education are beyond the reach of the majority.

“We plan to eliminate the nepotism, patronage and cronyism that are characteristic of public administration in Uganda and are the causes of poor service delivery and limited human development. To restore trust and confidence in our economy, we shall stabilize our business environment and render it more predictable by good governance that empowers the private sector to create jobs and stimulate growth,” reads part of the NUP manifesto.

Kyagulanyi now pledges an affordable, small and effective government by merging Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), reduce the size of cabinet which will be determined by a ministerial review, reduce the size of parliament to a maximum agreed upon after a national dialogue, eliminate wasteful political appointments and enforce performance contracts between senior officials and the government. Currently, Uganda has 100 ministries and autonomous agencies.

He also promises to restore Presidential term limits which were scrapped by Parliament in 2005 saying that once reinstated, removing the same shall be treasonable. He also pledges to increase the proportion of women in political leadership at all levels to at least 50 percent in line with the Africa Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and Affordable Government.

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Nancy Kalembe Independent Candidate Nancy Kalembe very critical of personalisation of government, saying that her overall vision in leadership is to create systems that will run independent of one personality.

“Systems that all Ugandans can trust and respect, systems that will show Ugandans that each one of them matters,” she says.

Kalembe emphasizes that leadership positions in her government will be based on merit.

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 Gen. Henry Tumukunde For Gen. (Rtd) Henry Tumukunde, it is the establishment of a modern, lean and effective government structure, substituting waste and unnecessary bureaucracy.

Under his ‘Renewed Uganda’ slogan, the independent presidential candidate says that once elected, his government will also focus on providing decent wages, appropriate living and working conditions, reasonable gratuity, and access to growth opportunities to foster a motivated incorruptible civil service.

According to Tumukunde, this will be achieved by rationalizing and logically reorganizing Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to unlock budget savings, increase efficiency, reduce regulatory burden and ease coordination to achieve better service delivery and value for money.

He also highlights the development of a digital Government Asset Register, supported by regular audits to identify, value and assess the working condition of Government assets with a view to eliminate fraud, wastage and to increase efficiency in planning.

Yoweri Museveni Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Meanwhile, the incumbent Yoweri Kaguta Museveni under the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party manifesto acknowledges the role of the state in guiding and facilitating development through increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the public sector in addressing the needs of the citizens and the private sector.

He says that there has been progress in this area noting that a key milestone in addressing government’s inefficiency, the NRM government introduced the Public Finance and Management Act (PFMA) 2015 that has resulted into significant improvement with the introduction of Performance Based Budgeting and that more stringent expenditure has been realized in many local governments, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

But Museveni pledges that once re-elected, the NRM is going to restructure and strengthen the Government’s systems to synergize efforts, remove duplications and align under a programme-based approach.

He also promises to improve monitoring and evaluation of Government performance through standard and auxiliary units such as Office of the Prime Minister, Auditor General and others, strengthen national statistical system that reaches for accurate and informative data presentation to aid planning and inform results, undertake real-time monitoring of project and budget spending across and upgrade public sector training to improve relevance and impact.

Two years ago, government announced plans to merge or return departments and agencies to their parent ministries. The plan, approved in September 2018 during a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Yoweri Museveni was part of a reorganization aimed at realigning functions of agencies and preventing duplication of roles and waste of public funds.

This merger was envisaged to save about 1 trillion Shillings in salary and wages, a move that was welcomed by the public as a way of avoiding duplication and cutting down on waste. 

However in October 2019, First Deputy Prime Minister, Moses Ali told parliament that although Government had committed to carry out the mergers, there were complications detected along the way which saw the Executive seek the advice of the Attorney General on the matter.

Relatedly under his Constitutional Amendment Bill that is yet to be finalized by Parliament, Wilfred Niwagaba the shadow Attorney General, sought to amend several clauses of the Constitution in a way that would shake up the current state structure.

He, for instance, wants the size of cabinet reduced to 21 Ministers and 21 State ministers, who, however, should not be chosen from among elected Members of Parliament. 

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