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Your mail: Citizens must demand for accountability

In the social contract framework, citizens elect leaders whom they entrust to protect them, run the state for their benefit and govern them in accordance with the set legal rubric and the promises made.

When politicians go around making juicy promises, upon being elected, those promises form part of the social contract. The Constitution of Uganda, under Article 17(i), places a duty on the citizen to combat corruption and misuse or wastage of public property.

This means that a citizen should, at all times when they detect or suspect corruption tendencies or wastage of public property, do all things legally-acceptable to thwart them.

Citizens in Uganda have taken on various forms of expression and demand such as social media exhibitions, citizen organising like the Black Monday movement, petitions, writing letters, demonstrations, among others. These means are acceptable in as far as demanding accountability is concerned.

The public institutions and leaders need to put in place mechanisms to ensure that public demands and scrutiny are received, and that there are feedback mechanisms as well.

It is injurious to any democracy to arrest individuals simply for asking questions; this is a drawback as accountability and being accountable is a cornerstone for democracy.

The reason why the Constitutional court in Uganda repealed the offence of sedition for being unconstitutional was the fact that it was vague and rooted in the purpose that colonialists did not want to be criticized.

The court in India, while protecting the freedom of expression, emphasized that governance is by open discussion of ideas by citizens, whether wise or unwise. Foolish or dangerous statements must be tolerated in a democracy. The court further emphasized that open criticism of government policies and operations is not a ground for restricting such an important right; it must be tolerable.

It, therefore, follows that any leader who will want to kill for being critiqued and criticized is a colonialist and probably in the wrong place. The moment you are in a public arena where taxpayers’ money is spent, even for one shilling, you are subject to public scrutiny.

As citizens, it is our duty to demand for accountability by using all lawful means necessary to draw public officers’ attention to issues affecting us. Demanding accountability is our part of the equation. It does not end on the day of election.

We should ask questions even though they seem uncomfortable. Wherever we are, let us use our power to hold leaders at the village, sub-county, district and national levels, accountable, for we are entitled to adequate and efficient services.  

Michael Aboneka,
Kampala.

Government should regulate transporters

Recently, I observed a traffic accident along Kampala–Jinja highway that claimed lives. Unfortunately, we are not doing enough to reduce deaths on our roads.

This particular accident was attributed to a truck driver who lost control of his vehicle and collided with another truck.  These accidents appear to be acts of negligence by the owners of trucks who do not maintain them in road-worthy conditions.

Therefore, all operators of heavy trucks that are in the business of transporting goods, including Fuso trucks, should be formally registered businesses with employees licensed to drive a truck. They should have their trucks regularly inspected, repaired and maintained in garages that are accredited and regularly inspected by government agencies.

Records on repairs and maintenance of these trucks should be properly maintained for five to 10 years. Traffic police should keep checking truck drivers to ensure that they have up-to-date documents to assure the roadworthiness of these trucks.

Truck owners whose trucks get involved in accidents due to non-adherence to repair and maintenance requirements should be barred from transportation business for at least 10 years.

The government should have a multi-sectoral committee that reviews reports on traffic accidents on a monthly basis to determine appropriate responses. These measures may raise costs of transportation business but certainly save many lives.

Ronald Eporu,
Kampala

Prioritize women in renewable energy

As the government prepares the national budget for 2024/2025, which is due for reading in June 2024, they need to ensure that they have increased the budget allocation for the renewable energy initiative to enhance women’s access to clean energy in the form of energy such as efficient cooking stoves and home-lighting solutions. 

This will accelerate progress towards gender equality and increase women’s participation in the economy. Currently, the 2024/2025 National Budget Framework Paper indicates that the total budget for the renewable energy and energy efficiency sub-program is only Shs 2.068 billion and Shs 11.423 billion respectively, which is less than 1.5 per cent of the total budget yet the generation, distribution and transmission sub-programs take the lion’s share of Shs 484.247 billion and Shs 827.771 billion that accounts for over 95 per cent share allocation.

This is critical because renewable energy and energy efficiency present a great opportunity for transition towards access to sustainable clean energy. Besides, investment in renewable energies such as solar has the potential to contribute towards universal clean energy targets, especially for the population in the rural and hard-to-reach areas, who usually cannot afford hydroelectricity.

The government of Uganda needs to ensure that there is full participation of women in the energy sector. It needs to increase the percentage share for renewable energy and energy efficiency sub-programs to at least five per cent of the total budget of the sub-program.

Paul Kato
katop.adyeeri@gmail.com

NUP leaders should release prisoner list

When you want to bring back your supporters, especially those wrongfully arrested and where the rule of law and court system are not straightforward, it is better to negotiate a prisoner release.

People like NUP’s Abed Bwanika do not wish the lives of ordinary human folk who have been caught up in a political fight to be adversely affected.

When it comes to negotiations, the people who scream and yell and make the biggest fuss about walking out on the deal, actually don’t mean it. They are just trying to appear relevant.

Negotiation is adversarial; the more you let the other guy know what you want, the more he is going to use it to his advantage and exploit you. Most of the NUP leaders have been on TV telling people that they want all those arrested during and after the 2020-21 elections to be released.

The public agrees, and now Museveni is using it to his advantage. He has recently demanded a list of all those in prison such that he looks into it.

Now that it looks like it is Museveni that is going to get the credit, NUP leaders are saying that they aren’t going to give him the list. This makes NUP look bad in front of the public, more than Museveni himself.

Of course, Museveni knows those that were arrested and where they are located, but it doesn’t matter to those who want their relatives out. Believe me, if the NUP leaders don’t release that list soon, the relatives of prisoners will do it for them. Either way, Museveni will benefit from this situation.

So, I would advise the NUP leaders to focus on the outcome, not on their egos or on how they appear in public.

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
United Kingdom

letters@observer.ug

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