All is not well in Kabala District as the leaders trade accusations over poor delivery of service and difference in decision making.
The developments that could deny the residents better service delivery started early this year when the office of the Resident District Commissioner ordered thorough investigations into sub-county chiefs that were allegedly involved in misusing funds meant for the Naads programme.
The RDC, Mr Darius Nandinda, has also been on a collision course with the district LC5 after he ordered the arrest of the district engineer for failure to construct Muko Gravity Flow Scheme and yet money had been paid. Mr Nandinda also initiated investigations into the misuse of money meant for the construction of roads in Muhanga Town Council, and the most recent one is where the RDC’s office halted the rehabilitation of the district council hall, claiming the bills of quantities were inflated.
However, the district chairman, Mr Patrick Besigye Keihwa, says all the allegations raised by the RDC’s office are false and warns Mr Nandinda against involving in matters outside his area of jurisdiction.
The other burning issue in the district is the recent stand that the district council took to evict the LC5 chairman from a district house over failure to pay rent and that Mr Keihwa pays about Shs16 million in rent arrears since 2011 when he occupied the house at a rate of Shs450,000 per month.
Mr Nandinda and his deputy, Mr Moses Nuwagaba, admit all is not well between their office and that of the district chairman. “We are not here to please the district chairman because he protects the corrupt leaders for reasons best known to him,” says Mr Nandinda.
“When we caused the arrest of the district engineer, Mr Turinawe Bagamuhunda, for failure to construct Muko Gravity Flow Scheme it was the district chairman, Mr Besigye Keihwa, who went to bail him out of police custody.
After the district engineer was bailed out, he went straight and fixed the gravity flow scheme and people now have clean water,” Mr Nandinda says, adding: “Our interventions in the mismanagement of funds meant for road construction and other government programmes like Naads have yielded fruits although the district chairman still claims that we should stop harassing his civil servants. Now if the person supposed to supervise civil servants resorts to protecting them there is a lot to suspect. The people of Kabale that had been denied rights of proper service delivery are now smiling.”
Mr Nuwagaba says they had to make a choice of either conniving with Mr Besigye Keihwa to frustrate service delivery or fall out with him to help the local people access services. “Our approach here emphasises value for money in all government institutions for the good of the people. Can you imagine that when we established that the bills of quantities of rehabilitating the district council were inflated to an extent that a square metre of floor tiles was inflated from Shs30,000 to Shs150,000, it was the district chairman that made the loudest noise and even went on radio stations to defend the contract,” Mr Nuwagaba says.
On the other hand, Mr Besigye Keihwa accuses the RDCs of working to dent his political career. “I bailed out the district civil servants that were arrested on the orders of the RDCs not because I protect the corrupt officials but they deserved a fair hearing after thorough investigations. I think these RDCs lack experience in handling public matters. I have received information that they are working hard with my political opponents to bring me down,” Mr Keihwa Besigye says.
“Otherwise I am happy with their enthusiasm to fight corruption and ensure that there is value for government money. My district is not on fire. It’s more stable than in the past when politicians were clashing with the civil servants on daily basis. I have good working relationship with my civil servants,” he adds.
The district boss says the alleged fallout with his district council over unpaid rent arrears from the district house he has been occupying since 2011 is not true. He instead says there is need to remind some councillors of the benefits of the district chairman.
“Some district councillors are just jealous because of me staying in the district house and that is why they are making false allegations on the alleged unpaid rent arrears when they know that the law guarantees me to stay in this house. If a mere primary school teacher is given a government house for accommodation why not the LC5 chairman?” Mr Besigye Keihwa adds.
The State minister for Economic Monitoring in the president’s office, also MP for Rubanda West, Mr Henry Banyenzaki, applauds the RDCs for doing a good job to arrest and expose the corrupt leaders in the district.
“Some district leaders have been scared of the RDCs’ operational methods of fighting crime especially after they refused to be ‘pocketed’ as it has always been the case. Some of our district leaders have not been used to such operational methods because they have always compromised the RDCs. I am ready to support them until corruption and misuse of government funds in Kabale District is no more.”
The district NRM party secretary and also the former district chairman, Mr Silver Baguma, appreciates the role played by the RDCs in emphasising value for money. He, however, notes that there is need for immediate dialogue between the district leaders to harmonise the situation.
“The district is on real fire. There is urgent need for elders to convene a meeting to harmonise the situation. There is no transparency between the district chairman and the district council to an extent that he seats in his office and his executive take binding decisions without informing the district council,” Mr Baguma says.
He gives an example “where the district council resolved to have a remand home in Mparo Rukiga County but the district chairman and his executive resolved to have it built in Kabale Municipality. This is too much conflict of interest and underrating the powers of the district council,” Mr Baguma says.
The councillor for Kamuganguzi Sub-county, also the chairperson of the district council committee on health, Mr Julius Barusya, also accuses Mr Keihwa Besigye of failure to respect council resolutions especially his staying in the district house without paying when council resolved that he should pay. He also alleges that the district boss told lies to the officials in the Ministry of Local Government by showing them out-dated council minutes trying to persuade them to keep him in the district house.
“Can you imagine that Mr Besigye Keihwa tendered to the Local Government minister Adolf Mwesige council resolutions of 2000 that gave the then LC5 chairman powers to stay in the district house without paying and intentionally refused to tell him that the subsequent district council resolution over ruled that issue and decided that the district house be rented out for income generation?”
“When we tendered evidence to this effect, that is when the Minister for Local Government issued a directive that Mr Besigye Keihwa pays rent for staying in the district house or gets out,” Mr Barusya says.
CAO shrugs shoulders
The Chief Administrative Officer for Kabale District, Mr Frank Ntaho, however, says there is no problem in his district and that the little misunderstanding between the Mr Besigye Keihwa and the RDC’s office has not interfered in service delivery.
“I have no problem with the district chairman and the office of the RDC. I don’t see a big problem but may be the work methods of the district chairman and that of the RDC’s office are the ones varying. But I believe all these shall be sorted out. In Kabale, service delivery is at 99 per cent and we have no problems in the civil service,” Mr Ntaho says.
The Coordinator of Kick Corruption out of Kigezi, a local NGO based in Kabale Town, Mr Robert Kakuru, accuses Mr Keihwa Besigye and the office of the Chief Administrative Officer of isolating other stakeholders such as the office of the Resident District Commissioner and the civil society organisations in implementing and supervising government programmes.
The head of clergy in Kabale Diocese, also the former Kabale District Council speaker, Fr Geatano Batanyenda, admits that there is a leadership crisis in Kabale District and asks all the stakeholders to urgently convene a reconciliation meeting if proper service delivery is to be attained.
“I feel the chairman is trying to please the people that voted and supported his campaigns and also the RDCs are trying to fight corruption to please their appointing authority. The way forward is that the stakeholders in the district should organise a reconciliation meeting between the two as they harmonise their work methods that do not comprise either side,” Fr Batanyenda says.