By Dennis Katungi

Quite often Public Servants miss out on a critical element at point of entry in public service and historically, RDCs have been among those.  This was the first time ever, that RDCs & their Deputies had a proper orientation soon after appointment.  This is a cohort of mostly newly appointed officials from varied backgrounds with a few of the retained older ones.  Feedback we got as facilitators of this retreat was that it was highly appreciated and they felt re-tooled; re- energised and properly equipped to go to their districts and deliver.  The retreat was so insightful that they requested the President to make it an annual event because they felt they gained a lot from it. It may well turn out to be an annual refresher for RDCs and their Deputies.  The Highlights of the retreat were IGP Kale Kaihura’s 1 hour lecture on Community Policing and President Museveni’s address to the participants on Saturday 13th April which have been widely covered in the Media.

In order to create synergies and harmonious working relationships, the Presidency deemed it fit to include in this one week retreat, all Regional Police Commanders (RPCs) and Regional Internal Security Officers (RISOs).  These are frontline personel in areas of Security and monitoring service delivery across the country.  It is imperative that they continue to work in an organized and well coordinated manner and such retreats are very necessary.   While some of these officials have been at it for years, they have not had an opportunity to sit under one roof and talk about their successes, challenges and lessons learned. They also benefited from infusions of ideological re-orientation as well as expert advice on cross cutting issues in their day to day work.  You could see that they relished the prospect with aplomb.

The role of RDCs is central for service delivery in Uganda.  It is outlined in article 203(3) of Uganda’s Constitution .  Through their monitoring and inspection functions, they are meant to ensure that government programmes are implemented as per the national and district plans.   
Topics covered were broad and cross cutting. The constitutional mandate of RDCs and their deputies, the Code of Conduct and Ethics for Public Officers, Communication and Information Management, Use and care of government properties, the need to have annual performance plans at the start of each year in line with the National Development Plan (NDP).
Away from the nitty gritty, there were sectoral presentations from Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government whose work is monitored by the RDCs at District level.  Agriculture,  Health & Immunisation, Road Construction, Education, Security, Mining, Forestry and Fisheries, Tourism etc.  Each sector explained their role and how they interface both with central and local governments across the board.  RDCs had an opportunity to seek clarifications and also to share their experiences on successes, failures and frustrations in their roles of monitoring service delivery.  Emphasis was on sharing good practice and problem solving skills.   A seasoned team of former Special District Administrators led by Mr. Busingye Amooti current Chancellor in the President’s Office and Brigadier Katirima Chief of Education and Sports in UPDF were at hand to share tips with RDCs on how to deal with the most challenging situations in District Administration.    

The Private sector was there too, and gave tips on Communications and Media Relations.  The Media Centre team led by the seasoned Ofwono Opondo and myself assembled cutting edge Communications packages including use of new and social media for the participants. We camped there for the entire duration of the retreat, and gained a dose of personal fitness from the early morning runs and military drills before breakfast. The climax was the exercise at the shooting range on the final day where participants, having acquired weapons handling skills practiced taking targeted pock shots.  

All the presentations were excellent; but the winning slots in my view were taken by the security experts, Maj. Pius Alitema of Internal Security Organisation and Brigadier Muhozi Kainerugaba, Commander of the Special Forces Command.  The presentations by these two professional officers had the most profound effect on the notion of national security.  Their separate but distinct assertions that we should radically shift emphasis to perfecting service delivery and tackling youth unemployment as well as dealing with wealth creation for households in order to impact the security equation positively captivated the audience.  With clear illustrations, on Power Point and intriguing graphics the two officers left participants convinced that Kony, ADF and other subversives are not necessarily the principle threat to our national security, but the malcontents on our streets and the poverty in our villages.   It was mind boggling but convincing and well put.

Dennis Katungi is Communications & Media Relations Manager, Media Centre, Office of the President