By Willis Bashaasha
Congratulations to H.E. President Yoweri Museveni upon launching the Parish Development Model (PDM) in fulfilment of the NRM government’s pledge to create wealth and jobs for Ugandans. This commitment forms the first of the party’s five thematic areas of the 2021-2026 manifesto, which is creation of wealth and jobs. The launch in Kibuku district in Bukedi region was a huge success and set good signs that the programme will equally deliver its main objective of drawing the 39% of Ugandans still locked in the subsistence sector (okukolera ekida kyonka), into the money economy. The PDM is the key driver for this target.
The President, who is the chief vision bearer of this manifesto, clearly reiterated NRM’s commitment to translate the economic growth and development so far registered into more jobs and wealth for all Ugandans. This is a statement of magnanimity and clearly shows that the development and wealth being referred to is all-inclusive and non-discriminatory.
The duty is now down to those charged with implementing this manifesto to ensure that our people are helped to tap into the already available structures; like roads, electricity, peace and security among others; to seize the socioeconomic transformation opportunity government is extending to them. As expected, there are already some pessimists and naysayers trying to water down the government’s new drive, saying it will fail — ostensibly like others before. But like I said in my recent article, the implementation of this manifesto is a duty for every single Ugandan regardless of position, religion, tribe or even political affiliation. The fact is that poverty or the consumption of social services have neither colour nor political belief. I have not seen a red school, blue road or green medical care anywhere; not even yellow water! This hence means that as a citizenry, we must put aside all the breeders of division and rally together to transform our livelihoods for the ultimate good of our dear nation.
Scope Of Engagement
While at Kibuku last weekend, the President rallied both state and non-state actors to ensure that this vision, and several others in the 2021-2026 Manifesto, is achieved without fail. At the Presidency — and the Manifesto Implementation Unit (MIU) in particular — we are well aware that the humongous task of making this manifesto work falls directly on our shoulders. We know that we have to offer strategy and direction to ensure successful implementation of this great vision. Our core duty is to supervise and monitor the manifesto implementation at all fronts to ensure that the government fulfills all its promises to Ugandans. In this regard, I am happy to inform you fellow countrymen that we have already set the wheels in motion by adopting an ‘engagement first’ strategy for the manifesto implementation. Under this approach, we shall first meet the various stakeholders in manifesto implementation and engage them on the approaches, expectations and responsibilities relating with this implementation strategy.
On February 23 and 24, 2022, we held our inception meeting on the implementation strategy of the 2021-2026 manifesto. The 2-day engagement brought together all leaders who are the focal persons of the manifesto implementation in the cities, districts and lower local governments (municipalities) of the central region. These focal persons included: the Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs), Resident District Commissioners (RDCs), district local government chairpersons, town clerks, mayors and district chairpersons of the ruling party. Added to these were Senior Presidential Advisors attached to this region. This was guided by the fact that 80% of the manifesto implementation takes place in the Local Governments.
We began with the central region because of its strategic peculiarities but our plan is to meet and engage with all leaders from all the regions of the country.
The meeting aimed at: assessing the preparedness of these leaders in manifesto implementation, tasking them on their roles, and appreciating together with them the challenges faced in manifesto implementation; based on past experiences.
We at the presidency believe that the manifesto implementation process will be achieved smoothly if its implementation strategy is shared in time with our leaders (who are our field troops) and the bottlenecks therein identified. They (leaders) will then be able to address/eliminate such challenges.
From our engagement, participants identified the major impediments to manifesto implementation as: lack of proper/in-depth appreciation of the manifesto, lack of teamwork (non-coordination at local level and the centre), weak supervision, poor reading culture, corruption, inadequate resources, and failure to update citizens regularly on progress.
The experience of the meeting created a convergence of mind on how best the implementation will be done. Specific emphasis was put on evaluation and monitoring, which requires robust supervision methods as well as continuous dissemination of results, improved coordination at the local government and the centre.
Added to the above for emphasis are the characteristics the President identified to define his government in this political term. These include: cohesion (teamwork), patriotism, zero corruption and faultless service delivery among others.
It was further agreed that to achieve better service delivery in their areas, leaders should adopt the culture of reading and also avoid senseless squabbles which push personal interests ahead of government interests and those for the common good. This impacts negatively on our targeted outcomes.
Having agreed on the above, leaders — both technical and political — will have a common position in approach to managing service delivery and forestall the conveyance of conflicting messages for better guidance of our people.
For us at the centre, our M& E systems are being digitized to improve the capture, analysis, and dissemination of data for the entire implementation mechanism.
The digitized M & E framework of the manifesto commitments will be aligned to the planning and budget frameworks of the various implementation entities as prescribed by NDP III. This will result into faster reporting of implementation gains, improved synergies between the key players along the implementation chain, and faster dissemination of results. In this, we are working closely with the Office of the Prime Minister (which is the chief coordinator of government business) and the National Planning Authority.
Also along this approach, we shall continue to liaise with the NRM party secretariat because as a party in power, it has a major duty to ensure that the manifesto promises made to the people during the campaigns are fulfilled.
This engagement strategy involves retreats with our manifesto focal persons who are technical people in the central government. It is therefore our humble belief and prayer that if this strategy is well entrenched, we should be able to score on the level of national preparedness in implementing our manifesto.
Going forward, we shall not entertain any excuses from any implementer who fails to deliver on their work. This is because with the ‘engagement first’ strategy, the presidency and MIU in particular, in exercising their oversight responsibility, will continue to ask for accountability based on prior agreed delivery performance indicators and other terms of engagement.
And like I said earlier, this country belongs to all of us so each of us has a duty to make sure that government programmes work for a better Uganda.
The author is the Director Manifesto Implementation Unit