UDN continues to empower local communities to ensure full citizen participation in planning and implementation of public services. Community members from Nebbi district under the UDN led Community Based Monitoring and Evaluation System (CBMES) model on 29th July 2015 presented findings from their monitoring exercises (education and health sectors) to district leaders during a district dialogue organised by Uganda Debt Network in Nebbi Town. Officials that attended the meeting include; the Chairman LCV, Chief Administrative Officer's Representative, District Education Officer (DEO), District Health Officer (DHO), District Internal Security Officer (DISO), District Inspector of Schools, Department heads and Sub County leadership from four sub counties (Erussi, Panyimur, Nyaravur and Alwi) in Nebbi District.
The community monitors discovered a number of issues in the sectors monitored that needed immediate attention from the district. In the Education sector (UPE) for instance, issues of lack of parental support towards the education of their children, poor sanitary facilities, absence of learning aids for children with special needs, laxity by teachers in preparing lessons plans stood out. Irregularity in posting and approving their transfers and lack of staff quarters were also revealed by the monitoring exercises.
The District Education Officer, Mr. Angara Patrick pledged to take on the issues as priority. Mr. Robert Okumu, the LC V noted that UDN was doing a noble job of building the capacity of community members as well as duty bearers in Nebbi. ‘UDN should also engage Government to the fullest since it does advocacy and lobbying so that the issues do not remain hanging,’ he added.
UDN with support from USAID/RTI empowers local communities in Nebbi district to demand for accountability from duty bearers as a way of improving service delivery.
On 26th June 2015, the new Board of Directors of Uganda Debt Network, which was elected during the Annual General Meeting officially took over office after a handover ceremony held at Fairway Hotel in Kampala. The new Vice Chairperson, Mr. Edward Gaamuwa congratulated the new Board upon this achievement and called upon them to work as a team for the achievement of the UDN mission and vision. Mr. Gaamuwa was speaking on behalf of the Chairperson, Prof. Ezra Suruma, who was absent due to official duty. Prof. Suruma was re-elected to serve another consecutive term, ending in 2017.
Members of the Outgoing and Incoming Board of Directors pose for a group photo after the handover ceremony.
The new Board in its inaugural meeting after the handover.
Tuesday, 7th July 2015 marked a turning point in the history of Uganda Debt Network (UDN)'s anti-corruption advocacy work with the passing of the Anti-Corruption Amendment Bill 2013 into Law by the 9th Parliament of Uganda. UDN together with other CSOs have over the last 3 years joined Hon. John Ssimbwa in advocating for amendments to the Anti-Corruption Act 1999 to ensure more stringent measures to combat corruption in public offices in Uganda. UDN and her partners organized several advocacy activities including press conferences and dialogue meetings with Parliamentarians to present key recommendations for consideration.
The Civil Society among other things recommended that Court, in addition to any other penalty it may impose, be compelled order that the property owned or controlled by the Defendant be confiscated and forfeited to the Government, to recover the actual gain or benefit the Defendant may have derived because of his/her action. This also included a provision for freezing the assets and liabilities of the corrupt. We further recommended that the Bill be reviewed to state that the property of close relatives and associates be confiscated when proven to have abated or been acquired fully or partially from the proceeds of the corrupt act (s) in question.
Given that mandatory confiscation of the assets/ properties of officials convicted of corruption, including their relatives once proven as acquired illicitly is now law, is a big achievement for the Ugandan tax payers who have lost huge sums of money to corrupt officials. Now, should the President of the Republic of Uganda assent to this law (which we hope he will considering his stand on zero tolerance to corruption), persons convicted of corruption will lose fraudulently acquired property in order to recoup lost public funds.
Unfortunately, many laws have previously been passed and assented to by the President but their implementation has stayed lacking making the laws toothless. With this milestone achieved, we pray that once this Law is assented to, it will be put into practice to effectively curb the corruption cancer and make it risky for those intending to misappropriate public funds.