Political and civic leaders in Pader and Kitgum districts are under fire from residents for dodging social accountability meetings. Residents accuse officials in both districts of failing to turn up for the meetings where they are expected to account for funds disbursed by central government and update them on ongoing programs. During the meetings organized by Uganda Women’s Network, monitoring reports compiled by local monitors over a period of time are also presented for scrutiny and residents raise pertinent issues affecting their communities.
However, technocrats and the top political leadership in Pader and Kitgum districts have persistently dodged the meetings. Only a few councilors attend the meetings. The failure by the officials to show up for the meetings has not gone down well with some residents. Charles Opoka, a resident of Pader Town Council says the action of both the civil servants and politicians is criminal. Opoka says they labored to elect the politicians and the only reward they get is shunning meetings where they have to account to the electorate.
He says they have noted the leaders who dodge the meetings and will punish them in the next elections. Francis Onekalit, a resident of Lagoro in Kitgum district shares similar sentiments. Onekalit says he is disappointed by the actions of the district leaders. He says he travelled all the way from Lagoro on Wednesday morning to get answers why Kitgum Matidi-Lagoro road has always been the worst in the district in vain. Onekalit says he was disappointed after the CAO, the district engineer and LCV Chairperson failed to attend the dialogue.
He has asked the district leadership to apologize for shunning the accountability meetings. 82-year-old Mama Rhoda Akumu, a resident of Kitgum town council has no kind words for the leaders. She has asked the district executive led by the LCV Chairperson to resign with immediate effect. Akumu says the political leaders have let down the people of Kitgum and do not deserve to sit in the offices. Sara Adwang Jessica, the Programme Officer of UWONET says the problem is real. Agwang says the failure by the officials to turn up for these meetings denies both the residents and leaders a chance to access and exchange information on government programmes.
She says the leaders also miss the chance to correct the wrong impression residents have about some government programs.
//Cue in: “if the district…
Cue out: …clarified to them”//
Political leaders in both Kitgum and Pader have remained silent on the demand for accountability from the electorates. However, Kitgum Chief Administrative Officer David Omulangira Okuraja says they had promised to attend the meeting but they were caught up by work.
He says the district is severely understaffed and therefore many programmes remain unattended to. Okuraja has however offered an unconditional apology and promises to mobilize his technocrats to attend the next community dialogues;
//Cue in: “Technical officers not…
Cue out: …we are weak”//
Okuraja says his team is dedicated to offering the necessary guidance to both politicians and residents in the district. He also challenged residents not to only wait for such public dialogues to get information but also seek some explanations from the offices during working hours.