To achieve “good governance” one must agree that its success comes only as result of a complementary social contract between government and its citizens, because “a State is nothing more than a reflection of its citizens; the more decent the citizens, the more decent the state”.
The World Bank describes governance as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development”. Governance determines how “public institutions conduct public affairs” and is perhaps the key distinguishing characteristic between societies that have achieved a reasonable level of development for their citizens and those that have not.
It is not surprising then that in Uganda we often view the idea of development and “good governance” as the concern of those in government and international organisations. This has nurtured a false sense of separation from our everyday lives, when in fact Article 84 of the 2005 Constitution gives the people the responsibility to decide at all times (not just thought elections) who leads the charge.
Government and Parliament are intrinsically linked. It is the work of Government to provide guidelines and data to Parliament on required government spending. The permission to spend comes from Parliament. Entrust the wrong representatives to this task, and the result is a chaotic and dysfunctional health and education system.
Allow the government to tamper with Parliamentary oversight and the results are a form of anarchy where ludicrous loans are taken on behalf of the people. This model of management where interference is the order of the day, allows for legitimised lawlessness that is evident in the siphoning of public funds in a manner that somehow appears appropriate. Both institutions should be acutely aware of the last reported poverty rates. It put the number of people living below the poverty line at 19.7% which indicates poverty for us is a reality.
Why do we need to urgently engage in the good governance process? The middle class in Uganda has tripled in the last twenty years. Many have no jobs, and although poverty reduction in rural areas is decreasing, the economic insecurity among the non-poor is rising.
Whether we like it or not, the lack of good governance has a direct bearing on our everyday lives? It has been said that "Our liberty depends on our education, our laws, and habits”. Therefore to be free from the tyranny of poverty, we must participate in the management of our country! We must hold to account those we elect! We must demand a decent quality of education. To achieve equity and transparency so that we are not cheated out of the system we must accept that all men have to be equal under the law, and accountable for their deeds.
Until we as a nation agree to these terms in consensus with our fellow citizens, and accept a well devised social contract with our Government and Parliament. We will find that the battle for good governance and a better way of life unattainable.
The writer is a social political commentator