Political and economic experts have criticized the National
Resistance Movement –NRM’s mission of fragmenting the country into smaller
They say for instance the cost of maintaining the increasing number of
districts, municipalities town councils, and sub-counties is shooting to
Makerere University researcher and development historian Mwambusya Ndebesa,
says the whole ‘district-hood mission’ a move by the ruling NRM government
seeks to cement patronage system.
Ndebesa says this move is opposed to the NRM’s much talked about ideology and a
belief and promotion of nationalism and Pan-Africanism with a broader view of
regional integration and African unity.
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According to a recent report by the Citizens' Coalition for Electoral
Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), there more than 2.1 million elected leaders in
Ndebesa contends that there are even many more non-elected
political posts including Resident District Commissioners, Presidential
Advisors among others. He notes that the more districts are created, the more
stress is put on the national financial resources.
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Prof. Yash Tandon, a member of the famous gang of four, describes the
fragmentation of the country as “disastrous”. He argues for
instance that in order to swell its ranks, the NRM party continues to bring in
more members through creation of new districts, monetary, and job inducements.
He contends the numbers are increasing, but without corresponding quality in
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CCEDU Coordinator Crispin Kaheru says that approximately 25% of the annual
national budget goes to recruiting and paying for politicians and according to
Kaheru, which is a little return on investment.
Prof. John Jean Barya, the Head of Department of Public and
Comparative Law at the Makerere University School of law said the creation of
new districts are not useful and a burden to both to state and the taxpayers.
However, he notes that these districts can be changed and transformed
into something else if the government and perhaps its successor chooses to.
He says for instance; the districts can be merged later and their
infrastructure used for productive purposes in other national projects.
According to Prof. Barya, conflicts can never be solved by
splitting districts rather than addressing the root causes of the prevalent
conflicts in the areas.
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A parliamentary report on the Ministerial Policy Statement of
Local Government, Public Service, and Public Service Commission on for the
Financial Year 2019/2020 indicate that the 203 New Town councils and 198 Sub-counties
that were created are not fully operational.
The report also notes that some are existing in shadow having no
staff and that there is no provision for budget for wages, non-wage and
Development in the next financial year 2019/ 2020.
Corti Paul Lakuma, a Research Fellow, in Macro Department at the
Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) says while the argument of extending
services to the people and sharing power was initially viable, it is currently
becoming too costly to maintain.
"Creation of more districts, of course, increases
on government's operational costs in terms of salaries, non-wage and
it affects the development budgets of those units you will find most districts
will only be spending on salaries. But there is the other side of it. The
argument from those who create these units or those who advocate for them
has been we need to share power more to give people more say but these are not viable financially I would say," Lakuma told
Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo, however, maintains that the
creation of new administrative units is mainly to bring services closer to the
people and to deal with local conflicts.
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Opondo says there are many stakeholders in Uganda and that the President
responds to what Ugandans demand and he cannot simply ignore simply because a
section of the population is against it.