By Mercy Kanyesigye
Like the Bugiri Municipality MP, Hon. Asuman Basalirwa, once said, the discussion on mergers has caused anxiety and uncertainty as well as impacted on staff morale in government agencies. “If you engage any of the officers in some of these agencies established by an Act of Parliament, they are not sure of what to do especially with regard to their mandate. I hope government finds a way of addressing these issues,” said Basalirwa.
The National Youth Council as established in 1993 by statute, as an umbrella organization for all the young people of Uganda is currently part of the victims of circumstances.
Cabinet, being made up of the Prime Minister and top-level ministers, is the main decision-making body of the Ugandan Government. Decisions made by Cabinet can be carried out in a number of ways.
The Cabinet on 22nd February, 2021 under minute No.43 (CY2021) took a decision to merge, mainstream and rationalize government agencies, commissions, authorities and public expenditure so as to facilitate efficient and effective service delivery and also approved a roadmap for the implementation process over a period of two years 2021/2022-2022/2023.
The National Youth Council Secretariat is more needed given the political history of the country, which is characterized by the manipulation and misuse of the young people. The NYC secretariat as an institution was put in place as a panacea for youth manipulation and abuse.
For the Cabinet, can direct that a bill as a proposed law, be drafted to make or change a law. If the Cabinet decides to introduce a bill to do with health for example, the Minister for Health works with the Ministry of Health to prepare the bill. If the bill passes the Ugandan Parliament, the minister and his/her ministry are responsible for putting the law into action. The cabinet can also direct a ministry to investigate an issue and make recommendations. A Cabinet decision might be carried out by the relevant minister directing their department to take steps to implement a policy. I individually implore the Cabinet to keenly revise its decision against the secretariat of the national youth council which will take National youth council backward.
Amalgamation of the National Youth Council secretariat with the children’s authority, women council, council for older persons and the disability council will further complicate youth coordination and programming in the country. The NYC secretariat is one of the principal organs of the National Youth council as described in section 10(1) of the NYC Act Cap 319 which provides for establishment of secretariat with a duty to implement policy decisions of the council.
Reading through the proposed model, the umbrella organization of the young people of Uganda will be affected by changes in responsibilities, reporting lines and financing which all require efforts from the management and staff. Such a reorganization takes time and consumes a great deal of bureaucratic energy where issues of the young people will always be delayed.
The politics of gaining consensus on budget issues will also therefore need to be taken into account. Competition for resources as per the proposed model will make collaborative leadership and strategic coordination difficult to achieve, despite strong direction from the top.
Many youth organizations will crop up to fill the vacuum left by a single coordinating secretariat. This will bring about the problem of uncoordinated and brief case bodies whose objective may not be in the best interest of the youth.
Whereas the Act that established the council envisaged the secretariat as the nerve center to implement the decisions on youth policy, the Act also describes the degree in which the objects of the Act can be realized and largely be determined by the manner in which the secretariat performs its task.
The lack of a specialized National Secretariat will limit the capacity of an overwhelmed proposed merged entity to help carry out the decisions made by the various special interest groups for example the National Youth council meetings, district youth council meetings and the National Youth consultative forum.
It is also important to point out that the young people of this country would be totally against changing formation of their secretariat because for several years, their office promoted ownership, pride and sustainability of interventions.
As National leaders therefore, we urge the Government of Uganda to halt with the process of merging the National youth council with other entities. We in the same regards request for wider consultation on the proposed merger so that the council is in better position to serve the young people of this country.
For God and My Country.
Sec for Legal Affairs secretary
National Youth Council
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