As the time for election comes closer, KRC has increased its drive in creating platforms where prospective leaders(candidates) interface with their electorates through debates. This initiative is premised against the background that for the last 3 years, KRC in partnership with the Democratic Governance Facility DGF) and the Uganda Governance Monitoring Platform(UGMP) has provided provide accountability platforms and foras to promote Civic Education. These platforms form the bedrock of the growing civic competence witnessed in the Rwenzori Region in recent time. One such forum was a rally that took place on 28th January 2016 at Kanara town council, Ntoroko District, was a true manifestation of this drive. It was a measure of eloquence, brilliance and grasp of local and national issues amongst various candidates aspiring for different offices. Indeed the spirits for people’s participation were quite higher than ever as thousands of citizens flocked the venue for the debate. The debate brought together all leaders of different positions and these included; the councilors both at district and lower local Governments and members of parliament. KRC also used the platform to conduct voter education during the debate using the simplified tool of ‘Minzani’(weighing scale) that illustrates the characteristics of a good leader. These include inter alia; education levels of a candidate, ability to speak in public, knowledge of the area and several others. However there were mixed reactions over the milestone for some level of education for a councilor as some citizens questioned why KRC was including it in the benchmarks and yet the electoral commission did not have such requirements ‘How come you want councilors to have some qualifications and yet the electoral commission doesn’t ask for education qualifications for sub county and district councilors” asked one of the participants. However after a series of explanation of what transpires in the councils, the citizens believed that they need to have one who can speak English to challenge the technical staff. First were the MP aspirants for Ntoroko County who were tasked on their roles. Mr. Isande Atanazio the FDC flag bearer used the opportunity to stand firmly on the mizani and be weighed by citizens through various concerns ranging from tolerance to alternative policy recommendations of his political party. From the questions raised and the responses given by Atanazio, he must have left the meeting a happy man since the citizens resolved that “MPs who have not come and were invited should be punished by not voting them into power”(his NRM counterparts did not show up). It was now turn for the district councilors to appear on the Minzani. From the civic education that KRC conducted from 2012-2015, the baseline showed that a bigger percentage of the councilors at the lower local governments were ignorant of their roles and responsibilities and also couldn’t ably debate in council, which hindered performance of the lower local Governments. Councilors appearing on the Minzani The aspirants were asked to present themselves and what they will do to address issues presented on the issues papers. While the presentation in the local languages was good and almost all of them were fluent and eloquent, the worst moment was yet to come –as they were asked to summarize their speech in English! This moment was an equivalent to the former NTV play of Katemba mukooti(Drama in court)! The councilors could not even complete one correct sentence in English! This opened the eyes of the citizens as they demanded all the remaining candidates to also express themselves in the English language. That councilors could not express themselves in English calls for review of the Local Government Act to address the issue of qualifications. While it may appear normal for these councilors to be illiterate, it poses a challenge when it comes to them playing a monitoring role for technocrats who are University Degree holders. They cant monitor what they don’t understand By close of the debate, citizens were able to appreciate the roles of the leaders and leaders were able to make commitments on the issues raised by the citizens. Citizens presenting issues that they want leaders to address while in office At the end of the debate all the aspiring leaders made commitments on the citizen’s issues and pledged that if they are voted into power they shall adhere to the citizens concerns presented to them and also sign on the Citizens Manifesto –if its presented to them .


Author: David Mugarra, Kanara Ntoroko

Category: KRC Newsletter

Publish Date: 2016-02-12

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