The continued bickering between Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja and Kakumiro District LCV Chairperson, Joseph Senkusu Sentayi, has left members of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party divided.
The latest feud arises from Nabbanja’s directive to all Government schools not to charge parents any charges, arguing that everything is catered for under the Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE) programmes, something the LCV Chairperson and other district leaders disagrees with.
The bitter fight between the two NRM bigwigs went public on Saturday 22nd July, 2023 when Nabbanja appeared on her own radio station, Kakumiro Community Radio (KCR) at 6:30am and started attacking and slandering the district LCV Chairperson and his group for defying her directive.
The district political leadership has been encouraging parents with children in Government schools to be cooperative and support teachers who are not yet on Government payroll.
The leaders argue that it will help the children get a better education they deserve.
In her verbal artillery, Nabbanja claimed that Headteachers of UPE and USE schools are always thronging the district Chairperson’s office with ‘brown envelopes’, suggesting that the money schools are getting from parents is shared between the headteachers and the district chairperson.
The PM asked Sentayi to quit his LCV position if the money in his office isn’t enough.
In another leaked message to Sentayi, Nabbanja told off the LCV Chairperson that “from today I know you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Nabbanja also claimed that she spent Shs63m to facilitate Sentayi’s campaigns in 2016 but he (Sentayi) should ‘feel free’ because “I don’t need any refund but I had to inform the public for them to know who you are.”
She urged the LCV Chairperson not to “disturb the already constrained population under the pretense of paying me back.” Nabbanja also said people like Sentayi “feel very powerful when they are the weakest.”
She further went personal, describing the district boss as being “egocentric, mediocre and hypocritical.”
After Nabbanja’s continued belittling of Sentayi and other district leaders, the LCV Chairperson said ‘enough was enough’ and responded to the PM’s claims with facts.
Sentayi and other district leaders on Monday 24th July 2023 appeared on Emambya FM in Kakumiro district and gave clarification on Nabbanja’s earlier claims.
Sentayi and other top NRM leaders argue that although Nabbanja is Uganda’s Prime Minister, she should follow the Constitution and know that other leaders have their different mandates and responsibilities which they have to fulfill.
They asked the PM not to be ‘everywhere’ and vowed not to allow her become ‘the alpha and the omega’ of Kakumiro district.
Sentayi urged Nabbanja to respect other leaders if she wants to equally be respected.
During the radio talk show, Sentayi reminded the PM that Article 26 of the Education Act 2008 says “Subject to any written law, District or Municipal Councils’ Standing Committees for Education shall be responsible for the over sight role of all educational services decentralized to a district, municipal, town council, division and sub-county.”
He added that Article 34 (1) of the Constitution states that “subject to laws enacted in their best interests, children shall have the right to know and be cared for by their parents or those entitled by law to bring them up.”
Article 34 (2) further states “A child is entitled to basic education which shall be the responsibility of the State and the parents of the child.”
Based on the above, Sentayi urged parents to be responsible and care for their children, noting that Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) doesn’t set different papers for the poor and Government schools.
He added that he doesn’t want to leave a trail of poor performance during his tenure as LCV Chairperson.
“I want to be remembered for service delivery. I want you to appreciate me in future for helping your children get the best education,” Sentayi, a strong Museveni supporter and NRM mobilizer, told listeners.
He said many Government schools are understaffed and in the process, some teachers have been recruited and supported by parents as agreed in the PTA and school management committee meetings in a bid to improve the quality of education in the district.
Teachers are also not happy after the PM directed them to write all exams on chalkboards if they can’t have them typed and printed on papers. As a result, the performance of UPE schools in the district has declined in recent years and many parents, who Nabbanja, claims are too poor, are now opting for private schools.
For example, three years ago in 2020, 2,415 candidates under UPE were registered for Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) in Kakumiro district compared to 1,811 candidates under private schools.
In 2022, 2,539 candidates under UPE were registered for PLE while candidates under private schools were 1,795.
However, due to poor performance of candidates under UPE, parents are increasingly opting for private schools.
According to information obtained by this newspaper, 2,180 candidates have been registered under UPE for PLE this year (2023) while candidates under private schools have increased to 2,123.
Sentayi, who has been popularizing the Parish Development Model (PDM) programme and the small scale irrigation project within the district, said Government has put in place infrastructures at various schools, but called upon parents to also play their part.
He said Nalweyo Secondary School is supposed to have 46 teachers, but currently has 17 teachers paid by Government, Uganda Martyrs SS Kakumiro is supposed to have 89 teachers but only 15 are on Government payroll, St. Joseph’s SS Kasambya is supposed to have 43 teachers but only 12 teachers are on Government payroll, St. Edwards SS Bukuumi is supposed to have 38 teachers, but only 18 are on Government payroll, Kisiita Seed School is supposed to have 43 teachers but 16 are on Government payroll, St. Albert SS Kakindo is supposed to have 38 teachers but only 18 are paid by Government, Kitaihuka Seed School is supposed to have 45 teachers but doesn’t have any teacher on government payroll while Mpasana Seed School is supposed to have 45 teachers but has no teacher paid by government.
Birembo Technical Institute is supposed to have 95 instructors but only has 14 on Government payroll.
Many primary schools within Kakumiro district are also understaffed. For example, Kisiita Primary school should have 24 teachers but has 11 paid by government, Kakumiro Boys is supposed to have 28 teachers but only 15 are on Government payroll, Kataihuka Primary school has 12 teachers on Government payroll instead of 26 while Kijangi Primary school has only eight teachers on Government payroll instead of 23.
Founded in 2016, Kakumiro district has an approved structure of 3,450 staff, but the district currently employs only 1,449 people.
The bitter fight between Nabbanja and the district leadership has left NRM members divided, with some paying allegiance to the PM , while others are loyal to Sentayi and his team.
During Sentayi’s talk show, a number of callers (parents) sided with him, saying they all want their children to get the best education. They urged Nabbanja as the PM to address the issues raised by Sentayi and schools before playing ‘the cheap popularity card’.
Kakumiro and greater Kibaale in general is a stronghold for NRM and President Yoweri Museveni, but the continued fight between Nabbanja and district leaders could weaken the party within the district as the Opposition could use this opportunity to penetrate the district ahead of the 2026 General Elections.