Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafiire has warned that unless African leaders learn to delegate responsibility, little will change on the continent.
Known for his plain-speaking ways, the minister also used his speech during a recent international gathering to slam African leaders for their penchant for telling lies.
“Africa’s biggest problem is [the lack of ] management. You need to assign people duty and confidence and they will give you their best,” he says.
“As you know, you can give Africans a successful going concern and they start well, but in no time, things are upside down.” Maj Gen (rtd) Otafiire, an avowed pan- Africanist, challenged African states to consider listening to their constituents’ needs in their management practices.
“Management is the capacity to listen. I urge you to adopt inclusive service delivery, because each of the people you are leading, whether a messenger or an administrator, are component parts of the whole success story. Always move along with your subordinates; if you do not move with them, they will undo your work.”
His advice came as he presided over the end of a refresher course for African administrators held at the Uganda Management Institute, last Friday.
The course, organised under the auspices of the African Association for Public Administration and Management, brought together 70 participants from six countries, including Uganda.
The minister, who has been in cabinet since 1986, railed against the failure by African leaders to inspire progress on the continent.
“The affinity of Africa’s leaders to tell lies is incredible. You should tell the people the truth so that those under you know what to do,” he said.
“Our other problem is failing to plan - we live for today and don’t plan and get where we are by chance.”
Explaining the rationale for the course, the dean of the school of public administration at UMI, Dr Gerald Karyeija, said they were intent on following the spirit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the African Agenda 63. Both look at improving public service delivery, without leaving anyone behind.
“We plan to ensure that our service delivery is inclusive and our participants will meet again next year – to review what has been done in that regard,” he said. AAPAM secretary general, Dr George Kojo Scott challenged the participants to seriously reconsider the quality of their service delivery.
“The speed of development in Africa demands that we increase the pace of service delivery as the facilities for success exist. We can do better,” he said.
“Last week, I was in an African country where I spent three hours in immigration – but here in Uganda I managed one minute in front of an immigration officer.”