By Morris DC Komakech
The core issue is the de-politicisation, decentralisation and standardisation of equitable development
Last week when I read the Go Forward Manifesto, I was struck hard by the central piece of their development proposal called Advanced Sub-County Model of Development (pg23). This model deserves our attention as voters as it will remove the clutter in our development planning. The proposal potentiates a standardised, equity-based development plan.
The ingredient which lacks in the Uganda 2040 vision is a standardisation and equity-based approach. As such, it is littered with micro-management style, and a lot of trial and error, where development is concentrated at national level, politicised, personalised and patronised by the President – leaving nothing concrete for the rural folks and those with divergent beliefs.
The Advanced Sub-County Model of Development has hit on a crucial development design, which should attract social transformational debate in the 2016 elections. The core issue in this proposal is the de-politicisation, decentralisation and standardisation of equitable development.
A 2014 World Bank Reports indicated that 84.23% of our people are rural based and engaged in subsistence livelihoods. Yet, 80% of quality education opportunities and healthcare services are concentrated in urban centres where less than 20% of our population resides.
The Sub-County Model allows us to scrutinise and correct that unnatural order of inequities. First, the JPAM manifesto proposes a formula upon which an equitable development can be achieved horizontally – at sub-county levels – by transforming the sub-county into an economic development unit; and, vertically, by claiming resources that are spent paying for the cost of patronage at the national level.
This, so far, is the best proposal and a winning formula for revitalisation of rural economies. A focus on standardised self-sustaining sub-counties is a model where equitable investment in social services – transportation, farmer’s cooperatives with bank/loan services, healthcare, education, recreation, green energy, sustainable environment projects, value adding industries, and markets, etc., can realistically get established closer to the people.
This model means that no matter where you are, you will have the same opportunities and services in your community – built and beautified, equipped and serviced, as well as replenished, with the same intensity, frequency and quality. This is sustainable, accountable, and equitable development.
The format of governance over politicises the county and neglects the Sub-county, thereby disabling rural productive. As a result, most of the districts are unable to raise taxes and develop a tax base sufficient to fund a district’s annual budget. There is a great opportunity to unlock rural potential by decentralising economic development to sub-county levels and guarding it against partisan politics.
When you travel to developed countries, we see standardisation of developments. Roads are designed, structured and developed in the same manner; streets sizes and designs, sign posts are all standardised. Housing, water, sewerage systems, public transportation, public libraries, recreation centres, and other social services are literally structured the same, in an orderly manner, and in development units called Boroughs, or special Wards in Japan known as Tokubetsu ku.
I have taken the liberty to study the NRM Manifesto. In it, I found nothing captivating and appealing to commonsense. In fact, one can correctly assert that it is a compendium of bravado. It does not offer a renewed hope that anything will be done differently than we already know.
In my consultation with the WesigeBesigye Campaign, there is a general consensus on egalitarianism – striving to point out that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status, and therefore, the role of government is to offer services equitably to stimulate the unleashing of innovation and production. Dr Kizza Besigye himself has been a consistent advocate of responsible public spending, smaller size of government, reduced costs in public administration, and a deliberate investment in critical areas of production, such as in education, agriculture, healthcare, green energy, electricity, social justice, and so forth. These are areas that I find a striking momentum for real social transformation.
Morris Komakech is a Ugandan social critic and political analyst based in Canada. Can contact via [email protected]