Manifesto Implementation Unit (MIU) Director Willis Bashaasha has urged for reforms into the government procurement processes in a bid to aid effective implementation of the NRM Manifesto 2021-26.
Bashaasha made the call while addressing manifesto implementation stakeholders from the Greater Northern region, who convened for a 4-day manifesto monitoring and validation retreat last week.
The retreat which was attended by key local government civil servants and political heads from Teso, Lango and Acholi sub-regions was convened by MIU under the Office of the President at the National Leadership Institute (NALI) Kyankwanzi, to evaluate the progress of manifesto commitments in northern Uganda. The meeting also aimed at sharing the challenges and successes registered in implementing the current manifesto as well as identifying solutions to challenges which these manifesto implementers identified during the course of their work.
And following lengthy deliberations from the Greater North manifesto implementers as well as supervisory bodies such as State House and presidential advisors, procurement challenges ranked high on the list of impediments to manifesto implementation.
Reacting to this critical observation, Bashaasha reported to the Vice President Jessica about the need to reform current procurement processes for better manifesto implementation. The MIU boss made specific reference to the practice where ministries lump various contracts together and award them to a single contractor; especially for key areas like Health and Education.
“The challenge is that most times many contractors get overwhelmed by the volume of work and therefore fail to complete projects in time,” Bashaasha told Alupo, who presided over the closure of the retreat.
He explained that the delays by contractors have a ripple effect which culminates into district authorities returning unspent funds to the treasury, which affects Manifesto Implementation.
Bashaasha also highlighted that low staffing levels and corruption are standing in the way of smooth manifesto implementation.
“The issue of staffing is very critical because we have got reports where some local governments have staffing capability which is below 40 per cent,” Bashaasha said. He however called upon all manifesto implementers and stakeholders to increase monitoring of projects as well as coordinated communication of any issues arising; saying some of these challenges can be solved through smooth communication.
“In some cases you find it’s not the local governments to blame entirely for some of the pitfalls; however, solutions can easily be found if projects are constantly monitored and their inherent challenges known,” he said. On staffing, Bashaasha noted that sometimes some key departments like engineering, Health can be under/not staffed at all due to failure to attract recruits who may be reluctant to go to some hard-to-reach areas.
He thus urged the district leaders to always notify the MIU about any manifesto implementation glitches they encounter for timely redress.
Sensitize Citizens on Manifesto — Alupo
While addressing participants at the retreat, Vice President Jessica Alupo urged leaders from the Greater Northern Uganda region to vigorously sensitize the masses so that they can understand, embrace and benefit from all government programs.
She reminded the district leaders that the only way Ugandans can feel the impact of the NRM Manifesto 2021-2026 in their heart is if they are guided on how to fully benefit from government programs to attain individual and household socioeconomic development. It is against this background that Alupo rooted for special sensitization of the masses about the Parish Development Model (PDM), whose funds have already been disbursed to the parishes for use by intended beneficiaries.
“You are the foot soldiers for the NRM government. At your work station people must feel and breathe the NRM manifesto. And it’s your duty to make that happen by teaching, encouraging and helping them. Show them how they can benefit from them clearly,” she said.
Kakande Wants Work Harmony
Meanwhile, while opening the retreat last Friday, Hajji Yunus Kakande, the Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President reiterated the need for all manifesto implementation stakeholders to maximize monitoring of all the Manifesto commitments to ensure fulfillment of the social contract government made to the citizens.
Kakande however warned that this can only be possible if all stakeholders embrace teamwork at their various levels of operation. He guided that government secured airtime on both public and private media platforms to solely aid widespread and effective communication of government programmes.
He warned district leaders against engaging in incessant petty power fights, especially between the technical and political wings.
“District Chairpersons should stop using their Councils to say they have removed RDCs/RCCs from their Districts. If there’s an issue with evidence you should write to the presidency so that we can investigate any matter(s) for appropriate remedial action,” Kakande said.
The four-day retreat which was convened by the Manifesto Implementation Unit started on Wednesday-Saturday attracted over 200 participants drawn from the greater northern regions of Lango, Teso and Acholi. The attendees included; Residence District Commissioners, District Local Council 5 Chairpersons, Town Clerks, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Mayors of cities and Municipalities and District NRM party leaders. The retreat is part of the validation meetings which precede the Manifesto Week slated for May, at which all government ministries, departments and agencies are supposed to take stock of manifesto commitments under their respective dockets, which have been completed for the citizenry.