Citizens of Pakanyi Sub County in Masindi and several neighbouring villages turned out in huge numbers, despite the morning’s heavy rains, to participate in the Citizens’ Manifesto Day for Bunyoro region held on 25th November 2016 at the Pakanyi Sub County Headquarters.
Based on the theme: United Against Corruption for Development, Peace and Security, 10 Regional Citizens’ Manifesto Days, have been organised in 10 regions of the country as part of the activities to build momentum towards the Commemoration of the Anti-Corruption day, 9th December 2016. Organised by Mid-western Region Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (MICOD), in partnership with UNNGOF and other regional partners, the Bunyoro Region Citizens’ Manifesto day was the first of the 10 celebrations, with the other nine to be held in Kigezi, Sebei, Busoga, Bugisu, Karamoja, Buganda, Acholi, West Nile and Lango. Present were the district leadership, CSOs, citizens from various walks of life, members of the private sector, students and many others.
In what was a lively event, punctuated by music, dance and a skit on corruption, the people of Bunyoro took on their leadership in regards to corruption and the six key issues they wanted them to focus on as enshrined in the Bunyoro Region Citizen Manifesto: Improve Quality of Healthcare services; Quality, affordable and accessible rural water supply; quality education; youth unemployment; intra-regional accessibility and better roads; and transparent management of the oil industry. Bunyoro region believes that dealing with the issues above will achieve their vision of ‘A fair society with economically empowered and environmentally conscious citizens’. These key issues of the Bunyioro Manifesto were opresented by Bbira Nasser of MICOD.
Citizens in their discussions cited the lack of oxygen and drugs in hospitals; the need to curb corruption, improve UPE, deal with the high prices for food, better accountability and security as challenges that need be dealt with. They also wanted answers to situations like how despite taking children to school, come teachers instead take them to gardens; the poor relationship between some leaders and residents; traffic police arrests of boda bodas and the high amounts to be paid; accessibility for the handicapped to facilities/premises; tax holidays for private investors at the expense of the everyday citizen; the high prices of goods and taxes, the elderly people’s grants under social protection; poor compensation of the people affected by road construction; rampant land wrangles and disputes; and deforestation inter alia.
Ms Kabarungi Sammy, the LC 1 of Pakanyi village thanked the organisers for giving citizens a chance like the CM day to air out their issues and urged citizens to openly share their grievances and opinions. Mr Jafes Mukiibi of MICOD reiterated to citizens that it is their responsibility to raise children to be model children. It is also the citizens’ responsibility to elect leaders that would deliver on the needs of the people and asked that citizens do not take on the ‘I don’t care’ attitude of some leaders. Mr Mukiibi urged that citizens monitor government to ensure effective delivery of its mandate to the people.
Mr Okwaimungu Richard presented the key note in which he defined Corruption simply as the misuse of office and
power given, ranging from embezzling government funds down to favouritism in awarding jobs. He reiterated that development, peace and security can only be achieved if there’s zero tolerance on corruption. He reminded citizens that its their responsibility to be role models for the coming generations and challenged them to stop condoning corruption.
The LC 3 Chairperson, Asimwe Frank, asked leaders present to check themselves in regards to what they promised the people during elections. He informed participants that he intended to create smaller administration units to better serve the 100 plus villages and about 90,000 citizens in Pakanyi subcounty. He insisted that for good governance to thrive, transparency and accountability are key and invited participants to speak their minds.
The Masindi Municipal Mayor, Businge Joab thanked NGOs for linking with the people and decried corruption and how it had reduced leaders to beggars. He described the law in Uganda as being like cobwebs and urged citizens to acquaint themselves with the Constitution, demand for it to be translated into local languages for better understanding. Mayor Businge decried the fact that the people that eat billions of public funds are still in office, the law is not working. He called upon the people to not just be present for events like the CM days and talk about their demands, but go further to actually make sure they are fulfilled, urging them to support each other.
Mparo Division, Biiso and Miirya subcounty local government received awards for their outstanding performance and support in furthering the Citizen’s Manifesto work in Bunyoro Rrgion.