Civil servants in Mbarara District who do not support the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party in the forthcoming General Election have been asked to either resign or be sacked.
The district chairperson, Capt (Rtd) Tumusiime Bamuturaki, and the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Lt Col James Mwesigye, told civil servants during the budget conference on Wednesday that they have no choice but to support the NRM party.
“From today, civil servants, heads of statutory boards and political leaders in the district, let’s go and mobilise for the NRM party and the leader of the party [President Museveni],” Capt Bamuturaki said.
At this point, the district boss got agitated and made it clear to the civil servants that, “If we get to know you are a civil servant and you are not supporting NRM party and are instead decampaigning it, you will be sacked. You can try to decampaign NRM party in the corridors but if we get to know this, you will be sacked. We have no apologies on that; you can take me to court if you get aggrieved by what I have told you.”
“Why should civil servants oppose government under which they are serving? Opposing NRM means you are opposing the government that employs you, and if you feel you are not comfortable with the government you are serving, it’s simple, quit,” Capt Tumusiime said.
On the other hand, the RDC, Lt Col Mwesigye asked civil servants to stop hiding behind Public Service standing orders but instead go out and lobby support for NRM.
“Some of you claim that under the law you are apolitical yet you campaign for the Opposition. You have to support and campaign for the government and NRM that is employing you, let’s go out, including you (civil servants), and solicit votes for President Museveni and he gets 100 per cent here [Mbarara],” Lt Col Mwesigye said.
He added: “We are watching you civil servants who are either not supporting or are decampaigning the NRM government that is employing you.”
However, the chief administrative officer, Mr Edward Kasagara in a separate interview, advised the civil servants in the district not to yield to the threats and pressure from the district chairperson and the RDC but remain non-partisan at all times.
“As civil servants, by rules and regulations, we don’t go into politics and I will restrict my staff not to go into politics, personally and as chief administrative officer of Mbarara District,” Mr Kasagara said.
What law says
Rule 50 of the Public Service Code of Conduct states: “A public officer may participate in politics within the provisions of the law, rules and regulations. He or she shall avoid engaging in politics, canvassing support for candidates, participating in public political debate and displaying party symbols.”