The term of Hon. Babirye Milly Babalanda as Minister for the Presidency has seen a great transformation in the functions of Resident District Commissioners (RDCs), Resident City Commissioners (RCCs) and their Deputies.
The RDCs are representatives of the President in the districts charged with ensuring effective service delivery and security in their areas of jurisdiction.
They are highly criticized and celebrated in equal measure. But Hon. Babalanda has told Red Pepper what her office is doing to ensure that the RDCs/RCCs and the Deputies deliver effectively in their mandate.
Q: HON. MINISTER, AS THE POLITICAL SUPERVISOR OF RDCS, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO BOOST THEIR PERFORMANCE IN AN ERA WHEN THE GOVERNMENT IS CHALLENGED TO DELIVER THE COUNTRY TO A MIDDLE-INCOME STATUS?
A: Thank you! RDCs have been exposed to several capacity-building activities. They have been grounded in the public service standing orders and were provided additional guidelines and operational orders.
Q: HOW DO YOU GENERALLY TRACK THEIR PERFORMANCE?
A: The Presidency instituted an online monitoring system where we monitor their work regularly. The RDCs regularly report on their field activities and they consult with Headquarters before implementing any decisions. The country is divided into six regions and each is supervised by a Regional Commissioner based at the RDC Secretariat who is in constant touch with the RDCs, especially to monitor their performance.
The Presidency instituted a national core team of stakeholders to help assess the performance of RDCs and support them to ensure they do not operate outside the law. The core team is comprised of the Minister for Security, the State-Minister for Lands; the State-Minister for Economic Monitoring; the IGG; the DPP; the Principal Judge; the Director General Internal Security Organization; the Head, the State-House anticorruption Unit; the Director of Operations Uganda Police; the Director CID Uganda Police and the Director Crime Intelligence, Uganda Police.
The core team is easily accessed by the RDCs who talk freely with them on subjects of interest without any hindrance. This was done deliberately to have the RDCs build their network with important offices and they were in charge of the district and city security as well as being the chief monitors and communicators of Government programs. This was done to boost their connection and confidence to interact with the top Government system.
Q: BUT HOW ARE THEY FACILITATED TO DO THEIR WORK? LACK OF FACILITATION MAY EXPOSE THEM TO THE VERY ILLS THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO FIGHT OR BE MOCKED BY THOSE WHO THINK THE OFFICE IS IRRELEVANT.
A: The Presidency has increased the allowances of the RDCs to facilitate their work of monitoring security and service delivery.
Q: FROM HOW MUCH TO HOW MUCH?
A: Shs2.6 million to Shs3 million. Additionally, all districts/cities now have functional field vehicles for RDCs. Very few of these have mechanical problems. We are in the process of acquiring vehicles mainly for the Deputy RDCs and Deputy RCCs who have not yet been facilitated. Before the end of 2023, all the Deputies will be equipped with vehicles and their performance is expected to improve tremendously.
Q: SOME OF YOUR RDCS HAVE BEEN CAUGHT ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE LAW AND OTHERS IN CORRUPTION CASES. THERE IS A RECENT CASE OF THE RDC BUKEDEA WHO WAS NAMED IN ACTS OF ELECTION VIOLENCE.
A: The Presidency is working hard to ensure RDCs observe the highest level of discipline and work ethics. We have instituted measures to this end and several of those failing to comply have been brought before the sanctions committee. As it is now, those who were in the habit of overstepping their function because they believed they were ‘untouchable’ have adjusted after facing sanctions. RDCs are constantly reminded that they are civil servants. They are not above the law and will face the law just like any other public official. This has shaped their attitude to work.
The case where RDCs used to reside outside their duty stations has also significantly reduced. Most of the RDCs now reside at the station and can be accessed by telephone 24/7. Only a few still have challenges with accommodation. The Presidency has ensured that all districts/cities now have deputy RDCs/RCCs. In the absence of the RDC from the station, the Deputy is always there to attend to the public.
Q: MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC COMPLAIN THAT RDCS ARE SOMETIMES INACCESSIBLE.
A: The Presidency has instituted a toll-free line and a Call Center at the Headquarters. The purpose of this was to facilitate the members of the public who have complaints but cannot access their RDC to call on the toll-free line: 08 00-320-320 so that their issues are received for the attention of the Center or for onward re-channelling to the respective RDC. The public also uses this channel to submit complaints against their RDCs in specific areas of concern. As a result of this, the gap between the wananchi and the office of the RDC has been eliminated.
Q: WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU DONE?
A: The Presidency instituted a research function to troubleshoot in the areas of the RDCs needing collection, analysis and assessment of information for the attention of H.E. the President, the Minister for the Presidency and the Secretary, Office of the President.
To this end, the DPP and the Director CID seconded focal point persons to the Presidency to deal with declining confidence by wananchi in the ability of the office to help them resolve their issues due to cases that used to be mal-administered at the hands of the Resident State Attorneys and the Police CID. This situation has since tremendously improved.
The Senior Presidential Advisor- Research has also boosted the RDC function with key data collections, handbooks development, mentorship programs and a host of knowledge management areas that have transformed the knowledge, aptitude and attitude of the RDCs.
The RDCs have multiplied their visibility through the media. RDCs are writing articles, they are regularly on radio and TVs and social media to promote government programs and to educate the masses on key areas of interest. This has transformed their perspectives and interest in their work.
Q: CORRUPTION IS MAJOR PROBLEM, AND RDCS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE AT THE FOREFRONT OF FIGHTING IT. ARE THEY FAILING OR THEY ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM?
A: On corruption, there are several cases reported by RDCs to the police, the IGG and State House Anti-Corruption Unit. The IGG, the Head of the State House Anti
The corruption Unit and the CID Director can attest to this development. Overall, the RDCs have been very active in exacting accountability and stemming corruption, especially regarding the use of public resources. The RDCs have been at the forefront of enforcing presidential directives which are aimed at addressing important concerns of value to society. The RDCs have been active in enforcing the presidential directive on encroachment in wetlands and Executive Order No.3 on Charcoal burning. Similarly, the RDCs are actively promoting the implementation of the PDM and Emyooga and they are recovering funds from defaulters.
Q: WHAT ABOUT ON THE SECURITY FRONT AND IN LAND EVICTIONS?
A: On the subject of security, RDCs are actively working with the police to fight insecurity in their areas. RDCs have recovered guns from hardcore criminals in Kasese, Nansana, Karamoja, Jinja and Iganga. RDCs have also maintained an active presence in the fight against illegal land evictions. Following H.E. the President’s issuance of the presidential directive of February 28, 2022; the cases of brutal and violent land evictions that were rampant have now reduced or been eliminated in many parts of the country. What is remaining now are just family disagreements.
The fight against illegal land evictions has also been facilitated by the active support of the Honorable Minister for Lands and the State Minister for Lands who have worked with the Director, Operations Uganda Police and the RDC Secretariat to stem these vices.
Eventually, these vices are anticipated to be eliminated in the coming two years. The only foreseeable challenge is the impact of the pending amendment in the land law.
Q: THERE HAVE BEEN MANY ABRUPT TRANSFERS OF RDCS DURING YOUR TIME. DOESN’T THIS AFFECT EFFECTIVENESS ON THEIR PART?
A: RDCs are transferred as and when there is a reason for it. Indeed, they are transferable just like any other civil servant. They perform their duties bearing in mind this reality. RDCs used to work in a station for a very lengthy period and they would assume certain habits as a result of this.
Other reasons (for transfer) are administrative- and I can’t mention them-both for the good of the RDC in question and the area of service. All RDCs are good but like in football, a good player may not be able to bring out the best in themselves when they are most expected to. In that case, you substitute that player and bring on someone else to make the team achieve victory. I appeal to leaders and residents in the districts not to antagonize RDCs unnecessarily and unfairly. In case of any issues, raise them with us but do not engage in confrontation with them.