Salaries: Is NRM brain dead or living on Mars?

Author: Alan Tacca. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • The traditional civil service salary scales have become almost meaningless.  

When the NRA guerrillas seized power in 1986, they thought they were very strong and very smart, entitled to change anything. After all, they had disbanded UNLA, the national army. My focus is on the regime’s itch to dismantle established things or institutions, and replacing them with new things.

There is plenty of evidence of this tendency, even if the replacements are sometimes less desirable, or as futile as the old things. Or worse.

Salary disparities:Are we ready for consequences?

The police survived, but unloved and humiliated, until it was militarised.
Local government entities with clear boundaries and familiar descriptions were fragmented and given LC numbers. Idiots of my grade do not yet understand what LC2 and LC4 mean, or where to find them.

And why isn’t the whole of Uganda called LC6, since, in some ways, it is also ruled like a village?
Before that is answered, a plan is probably being hatched to chop up your district (LC5) into two or three new districts, as long as they can find tree shades under which to operate.

No area of government service was spared. NRM has extracted the juicy parts and turned each of them into an ‘authority’, or some other body: tax, roads, forests, power, the capital City, and so on; homes of disproportionately huge salaries. 

Then the remaining mutilated civil service carcass often grows special ‘projects’, and some money from international ‘partners’ goes there. ‘Allowances’ are invented for those under the projects, patching up some of their income gaps.

Under NRM rule, some technocrats employed by government are paid several times as much as other government-employed technocrats, all of them sometimes doing tasks demanding similar technical competence, and the same hours a week. The lower-paid technocrat is even sometimes the supervisor of the higher-paid technocrat. It is pure chaos. The traditional civil service salary scales have become almost meaningless. 

Affiliated to the civil service, government workers in the specialised education and health care services have been softened by old-fashioned professional ethics. Their timid strikes have hitherto yielded very little.

Then, perhaps because Covid-19 had highlighted the importance of medical science and science education, with the President being deceived that Ugandan scientists were ready to produce wonder medicines, mobile phones and electric cars, the President abandoned caution and situation analysis. He announced a Shs4-million-per-month salary for secondary school science teachers, thus multiplying their current salary by about five times!

The teachers of the arts were supposed to look on; and, again, remain docile. In which other country can this be done in one swoop, and to the advantage of only one group in the same profession?

Mr John Chrysestom Muyingo and Dr Joyce Kaducu are highly trained people, with doctorates far more serious than those some of our pastors and herbalists pick from mysterious sources. How did these ministers of Education fail to foresee the current standoff and advise Cabinet?

Indeed, is there no one in government who understands that Uganda’s entire salary frame has to be overhauled as a total concept? The current situation where the NRM plays in the chaos to divide the employed ranks is untenable.

The fact that various non-Education ministers are talking about the current crisis implies that the NRM regime is not yet brain dead, but their uncoordinated positions suggest that they may be coming from different parts of Mars.

In that case, visiting the principles guiding the salary structure left by the British in 1962 could restore some sanity, instead of blundering ahead with the methods of the 1986 revolutionaries.

Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.
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