I feel sad every time I hear that we are breaking up our country into more and more districts. I feel especially sad because many of the new districts have been divided along tribal lines splitting two or more ethnicities that have for long learned to live together. I feel sad because the country is mostly divided into districts in pre-election years and while the politically correct justification is so that services may be brought closer to the people, we know that districts are created more for political expedience, for scoring political points and getting political wins in an election year. It’s never about services. It’s never about the real needs of people. I feel sad about the amount of money wasted in setting up new districts, which money should actually be channeled to improving service delivery.
From an Observer story today titled “New Districts too Costly – Finance”, the PS of Ministry of Finance, Mr. Keith Muhakanizi says Government just does not have the money it takes to set up new districts. It takes 70 billion in the first year, to get a new district up and running. The figure includes costs required for creation and operation of new district headquarters, offices for Electoral Commission, police, internal security and district hospitals among others. The Ministry of Finance says these costs are just not tenable, given the fact that the resource envelope is already stretched too thin.
One would hope that before our leaders create or demand for new districts, they have done a feasibility study about the viability of such a proposal. But more often than not political expedience trumps economics and so what you have in the end are smaller, weaker, non-viable entities we like to call districts. In the end, services seem to elude Ugandans as the ‘cake’ is split into smaller and smaller bits until the crumbs don’t make sense.
In the end we will no longer be “united, free”, as we claim in our anthem. We will be divided and trapped.