KAMPALA – Ugandans have trust and confidence in their local government leaders than the national leaders according to the recent survey.
This is according to the data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey for 2018 which was released this week.
The survey found out that six in every ten citizens [about 58%] found it easy to meet local government leaders in their area and that (54%) believe that the sub-county governments take their views into account.
“Citizens generally express more trust and confidence in their local government leaders than in national leaders and six out of ten (58%) say they find it easy to meet local government leaders in their area,” reads the report in part..
The data released this week adds that the majority of Ugandans (54%) say that the sub-county governments take their views into account in decisions while fewer(35%) report that they believe the national government considers their views.
The Twaweza’s in a pair of research briefs also add that half of Ugandans (51%) think that community leaders put effort into being respectful to them and that they [Citizens] are also impressed by local-level meetings.
“Six out of ten of those who have attended a meeting in the past year (58%) say that the most impactful meeting they attended was organised by the Local Council I Chair,” adds the briefs accessed by PML Daily.
These findings were released by Twaweza in a pair of research briefs, the first, titled Active and Engaged: Ugandan’s experiences of access to information and participation is based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey.
The findings are based on data collected from 1,872 respondents across Uganda in December 2018 and the second brief is drawn from a qualitative study with 62 civil servants from national level and across five districts in from January to March, 2019 and is titled Between paper and practice: civil servants’ views on citizen participation and access to information.
This study by Sauti za Wananchi breaks down the levels of trust that Ugandans have in different public leaders in the country, showing that the least trusted are the national leaders while the most trusted are the local council one.
This new survey comes at the time another study conducted by Uganda Bureau of Statistics [UBOS] in 2017 also revealed that many Ugandans have lost trust in their political leaders at national level, especially Members of Parliament.
The 2017 National Governance Peace and Security Report that launched in Kampala in 2017 indicated that 54% of Ugandans don’t trust their MPs.
The Sauti za Wananchi reports briefs further show that despite some of these constraints, citizens do report some levels of agency and engagement and that four out of 10 (39%) reported that they have jointly approached a local leader with other citizens in order to solve a problem.
The report adds that these approaches are often productive; eight out of 10 citizens reported that the problem was completely resolved (34%) or some progress was made (43%). Citizens report that these problems are largely around water (40% of those reporting a problem), security (35%) or roads (29%).
Ms Marie Nanyanzi, Sauti za Wananchi Officer at Twaweza while releasing the 2018 survey data report said when asked more generally about the types of actions they have taken in the past year, a majority of Ugandans report attending community meetings (68%), and getting together with others to raise (60%) or discuss (59%) an issue.
“These data show that citizens are often engaged in local processes and see the value of channeling their problems through their local representatives. But they often wait for initiatives from governments and they still feel that they face challenges in meaningfully engaging with formal processes on planning and budgeting,” she said.
“This is no surprise given that public officials themselves appear to believe that citizen access to information is a privilege and they lack sufficient knowledge and resources to encourage citizen participation.”Ms Nanyanzi added.
Mr Stephen Masiga, a lead researcher at Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) and Don at the Makerere University, Mbale campus said there is an unusual relationship where the government has to beg people to appreciate what it has done for them and that this is indicative of something gone wrong.
“I think this is a good survey, it tells us the type of leaders citizens would love to have in the country and also shows the importance of local leaders in governance but also speaks volumes about citizens participation in governance,” said Mr Masiga.
Ms Violet Alinda, Director of Voice and Participation at Twaweza said for the first time, these data allows them to hear both the voices of citizens and the views of public officials on the same issue of citizen participation and access to information.
“And this allows for deeper insight and ultimately provides strategies for addressing both sides of the public participation equation and on the part of civil servants, shifts in awareness – their knowledge of the respective laws and procedure, and attitudes – that access to information is citizens’ right, are needed as well as more effort to ensure that information officers have budgets with which to get their work done,” said Ms Alinda.