Story compiled by: Tusiime Richard and Francis Musinguzi
17th h November 2020
A select team of leaders from across the Rwenzori Region met at Kalya Courts in Fort Portal on Tuesday November 17, 2020 to evaluate the progress made on Kasunga IX resolutions. The meeting was attended by the Resident District Commissioners, District Chief Administrative Officers, Heads of Operation Wealth Creation, District Natural Resource Officers, Civil Society and the Media.
It was observed that significant progress on key resolutions had been achieved on Kasunga IX resolutions. Most evident are the achievements registered in fast tracking the realization of the Agro-Industrialization Local Economic Development (AgriLED) Initiative for the Rwenzori Region.
AgriLED is a multi-billion shilling programme aimed at transforming local governments to eradicate poverty and ensure sustainable wealth creation by paying attention to the needs of individual districts. It also seeks to enhance private sector growth and development through enterprise development and attracting local and foreign investors to the region.
The regional leaders who convened for Kasunga IX at Kayla Courts Hotel, Fort Portal on the 15th & 16th August 2019, resolved that:
- Financing and operational procedures for AgriLED be popularized
- There should be clear linkage between districts budgets and national budgets-and how the Ministry of Finance will channel funds under the AgriLED
- There should be sensitization of technical and political leadership to understand AgriLED
- Regional/District independent implementation teams for AGRILED projects be harmonized and spear-headed by a Regional think tank which shall inter alia; Profile all AgriLED projects in the region and define the delivery mechanisms, in terms of community participation, ownership and sustainability of AgriLED initiatives.
The CAO Kyegegwa, Mr. Kisembo Grace and the DCDO Bundibugyo, Mr. Mugisa Simon reported that 100 billion shillings had already been received by each of the two Districts. The CAO Kyegegwa who is also the Chairperson of Rwenzori Regional CAOs decried the short timeframe allocated to allow utilization of the funds, between now and June 2021. The CAO Bundibugyo also shared similar concerns that late releases of funds from the central government is blamed for failing local governments in utilization of funds. The CAOs were responding to concerns by leaders that local governments in the region have been victims of returning project funds to the central treasury for failure to deliver development programmes in time, to the dismay of Ugandans entangled in the shackles of poverty.
The Kabarole District Resident Commissioner, Mr. Stephen Asiimwe condemned poor governance of government programmes on incompetent political leadership. He said majority district councils cannot comprehend, provide guidance an oversight over projects involving huge amounts of funds due to low education. He said that currently, possession of the National Identity Card is the only qualification to qualify for electives positions of Councilors, a disregard to the critical assignment ahead of them.
Brigadier Phillip Mugarura, the Regional Coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation, castigated the diversionary influence of politicians who politicize development programmes meant to benefit all people across the political, ethnic and cultural divide. He said that while politicians ride on government programmes for their egoistic political maneuvers, they in the process discredit the government’s willpower to improve the lives of Ugandans.
The Kyegegwa and Bundibugyo CAOs reported that AgriLED funds are going to support the construction of central urban markets and installation of agro-processing plants, including milk coolers, coffee hullers, mills, cocoa processing plants among others. Sensitization of stakeholders is ongoing and committees charged to provide project oversight have been selected and commissioned.
During the deliberations, it was evident that the spirit of Kasunga Regional Leaders Forum is alive. This follow-up meeting was part of a series of buildup activities leading the convening of Kasunga X Regional Leaders Retreat on the 3rd and 4th December 2020.