The ombudsman has named District Service Commissions (DSCs) that operate behind a shroud of corruption.According to a list seen by this newspaper, the districts of Tororo and Butaleja registered the highest number of cases related to corruption such as nepotism, bribery and recruitment of staff without job requirements. Other districts red flagged include Bududa, Namisindwa, Manafwa and Busia. The Inspectorate of Government registered 225 cases related to abuse of office at local government (LG) level between January 2020 and December 2022. Documents seen by Saturday Monitor illuminate cases of ring-fencing of jobs, recruiting of non-qualified candidates and political interference.
“Apart from the injustice of denying a person of merit the opportunity to serve this country, there is a great danger of littering the public service with human resources of low calibre,” Ombudsman Beti Kamya told journalists on Tuesday. “This leads to incompetence, inefficiency, loss of public funds and poor service delivery, among others,” she said. Ms Kamya called in question a system that vests a lot of power in the hands of the district chairperson.
“Currently, the district chairperson nominates names to the DSC and submits them to the district council for endorsement. This means that the chairman takes care of the interests of all stakeholders in this matter. In this case, merit is the least of anybody’s concern,” she noted, adding that there is a need for the Public Service Commission to ensure that DSC members first undergo due diligence.The ombudsman further revealed: “Plans are in high gear to revive our engagements with the members of the DSCs, district chairpersons, secretaries and CAOs (Chief Administrative Officer) on matters of corruption in the recruitment of public servants. The engagements had started and districts like Fort Portal, Jinja and Masaka were covered before Covid-19 lockdown halted the arrangements.”
Asked about the irregularities in the recruitment of the public servants at local government level, Mr Raphael Magyezi, the Local Government minister, conceded to their existence. He told Saturday Monitor that his ministry doesn’t take such revelations lightly. “As a ministry, we have already constituted a team of people that is going to all districts to assess the recruitment procedures of public servants,” he said via telephone interview on Thursday.
The irregularities in the recruitment of public servants at the local government was covered extensively in the Auditor General’s latest report that estimates the country to have lost Shs1 billion to such shenanigans during the 2021-2022 Financial Year after making payments to 795 public servants who either died or absconded from work. Shs19 billion was also paid to 609 ineligible primary and secondary teachers in 129 local governments.Relatedly, the same report revealed a loss of Shs3.5 billion to 26 staff in local governments that used doctored salary scales.