Gov't top workers to lock horns for jobs

Ms Miriam Fauzat Wangadya, Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) Chairperson. Photo/File

What you need to know:

  • After scrutiny and input by the inter-ministerial technical committee, the proposals were forwarded to a Cabinet sub-committee on rationalisation. We understand that this sub-committee passed on its proposals to the full Cabinet for approval.

Top jobs at government agencies, commissions and authorities that are set to be merged under the planned rationalisation programme will be filled through a competitive process, the Ministry of Public Service has announced.

The rationalisation process was conceived following a September 10, 2018 Cabinet decision to reduce public expenditure and wastage of public resources by either merging or collapsing government agencies and commissions. The exercise, which is expected to be implemented at the tail end of this financial year and roll into the next, 2024/2025, is expected to see the government save up to Shs956 billion.

Ms Allen Kakama, the commissioner of management services at the Public Service ministry, told Sunday Monitor that executive directors who wish to continue as heads of the merged agencies will now have to be subjected to interviews.

“If the heads of two entities that have been merged are keen on staying on in the same capacity, they will have to sit interviews,” she revealed in an interview.’

Ms Kakama added: “The commissions are going to subject them to validation, competence tests, and interviews. The best fit is going to become executive director or chief executive officer.”

Affected entities
A list that the government released last year detailing mergers indicated that the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) are to be merged. That means that the executive directors of the two entities will have to be subjected to interviews.

Elsewhere, the position of chairperson will be up for grabs when the Uganda Human Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission are merged.

Ditto the National Youth Council, the National Women’s Council, the National Children’s Authority, the National Council for Disability and the National Council for  Older Persons that will essentially have their current chairpersons—numbering five—vie for the top job at the merged entity in an interview.

The proposed merger of the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council with the Allied Health Professionals Council, and the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Council under the Ministry of Health suggests that the three chairpersons will face off in an interview to find a single chairperson.

Similarly, only one managing director will remain standing after the top bosses of the Uganda Electricity Generation Company, the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company, and the Uganda Electricity Distribution Company are subjected to an interview.

In the same breath, only one executive director will remain standing when the National Planning Authority, the National Population Council, the Town and Country Planning Board and the National Physical Planning Board are merged. The same applies to the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) and the Uganda Free Zones Authority (UFZA).

Structures agreed
Ms Kakama also told Monitor that a technical team conducted institutional reviews on all the institutions set to be affected by the rationalisation process. It then came up with structural proposals to be accommodated in terms of mergers, mainstreaming or transfer of functions. Sources said the structural proposals were then discussed and endorsed first by the secretariat on rationalisation. A Cabinet sub-committee on rationalisation, chaired by Minister Muruli Mukasa from Public Service, then weighed in before an inter-ministerial technical committee on rationalisation cast the dice. The latter committee is chaired by Ms Catharine Musingwire, the Public Service ministry’s permanent secretary.

After scrutiny and input by the inter-ministerial technical committee, the proposals were forwarded to a Cabinet sub-committee on rationalisation. We understand that this sub-committee passed on its proposals to the full Cabinet for approval.

“Initially, 69 institutions had been lined up for rationalisation, but Cabinet changed its position on some of them. That is why we are talking of only 60 entities, but the structures for the 60 entities have all been approved through that process that I have talked about,” Ms Kakama said.

Excluded agencies
Some of those that were struck off the initial list of 69 include the Uganda Seed Company Limited and the Amnesty Commission.

“The structure of the Amnesty Commission had been approved, but the President guided that one could not use an institution like the Ministry of Public Service to deal with the kind of cases that it deals with. You need seasoned [...] people to do that work. Besides, it still has a number of cases that it is still dealing with,” Ms Kakama explained.

Others that were left out are the Education Service Commission, Health Service Commission and Public Service Commission.

“The service commissions were left out [because] they have a very big role to play in what is going to happen. We are going to be boarding off staff, revalidate and reappoint and it is these commissions that are going to be handling that,” she said.

Absorption gymnastics 
Similarly, those whose agencies are to be absorbed back into line ministries will be given opportunities to apply and be subjected to fill some of the vacant positions in the mainstream public service.

“There are positions that are vacant in the ministries and we know there are people out there who are competent. If those who are being mainstreamed want to come in, they shall be subjected to a competitive process,” the Public Service ministry’s top accounting officer said.

It is not clear whether the absorption of staff from the collapsed agencies will replicate the procedure used when the Rural Electricity Agency (REA) was mainstreamed back into the Energy ministry. Mr Solomon Muyita, the ministry’s spokesperson, recently told Sunday Monitor that Cabinet had given former employees of REA a soft landing.

“The Cabinet expanded the structure of the ministry to create positions for them. The structure was ring-fenced for REA staff only. They did not compete for those positions with any other person and each of them was allowed to apply for at least two positions,” Mr Muyita said.

What is clear is that those who will be absorbed back into the public service will be taken on under the terms and salary structure of the public service. This position was first communicated by Ms Musingwire on December 4, 2018 during a discussion on rationalisation of the government agencies organised by Makerere University Business School (MUBS) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. In our interview with her, Ms Kakama reiterated the position.

“Those leaving the agencies could migrate with the functions where positions are available, but if the positions are available, the terms and conditions of service will change. Those moving from the agencies should know that the job appointments are there. When they join, it will be on terms and conditions of service of where they are going,” Ms Kakama said.

However, Ms Kakama pointed out that accounting officers of agencies that are to be mainstreamed back into parent ministries will not have a chance to compete with permanent secretaries of the line ministries for jobs at permanent secretary level.

“When we mainstream, then we have only one accounting officer and that is the permanent secretary. There is only one position of accounting officer in the ministry and those are kind of permanent and pensionable staff,” she said.