A Storm is brewing over salaries paid to local government leaders yet their positions are receiving increasing responsibility in the delivery of government services.
The latest series of demands has come from sub-county chiefs in greater Mukono region whose leader says they are some of the least paid government workers despite the heavy burden that carry in delivering public services.
This was voiced by the LC 3 chairperson of Nama Sub County in Mukono District who expressed disappointment over low salaries that are being given to Local Government (LG) leaders.
Elisa Ssebale says he is charged with serving over 46 villages in Nama Sub County which has a population of over 120000 people, but he is only paid UGX370,000 pee month, which is less than the salary of primary school teachers. Although the new public service proposed salary enhancement indicates they will receive UGX410,000, per month, they say it is still pea nuts.
“With UGX370,000 only we receive monthly as LC3 chairpersons, the government expects us to exercise duties on its behalf; this money is totally not enough,” said Ssebale.
Commenting about the increment, Ssebale said: “Through our forum the Uganda Local Governments Association, we met the Minister of Local Government TomButime at Ntare school in Mbarara, who made us dance with joy after telling us that Government has revised our salaries but on checking accounts, we were surprised to find we were only added UGX30000, he further told us that the transport issue was being resolved but its nearly two years and nothing has been done,” said Ssebale.
“We the Local Council leaders government doesn’t value us, maybe it’s because we are local, it really hurts so much that an LC1 chairperson gets a monthly commission of UGX10000 ,this has prompted these leaders to engage in corruption and unfairly judge people,” said Ssebale
He added that the LC1 chairpersons suffer more saying the peanut salary they receive is completely inadequate. He therefore attributes rampant corruption in Local Governments to low salaries.
Ssebale revealed this over the weekend while attending a launch of KEBBLE events, an organization that aims at lifting youths’ talents in Nama Sub County, Mukono district. It is led by a one Samuel Mukiibi.
Ssebale says Local Council leaders perform very many functions where people expect them to make financial contributions on government’s behalf and because of their patriotic hearts they sometimes get out their way to use personal money.
Ssebale’s complaint comes just days after village LC1 leaders in Gulu municipality announced a strike demanding for higher pay. Currently village bosses get a paltry UGX10,000 per month to do the job.
Recent developments heaped more burden on the shoulders of LC bosses including performing judicial duties of hearing land disputes as well as other functions such ensuring security of the village, doing election work.
For Ssebale, the community doesn’t know they are doing voluntary work.
“Speech days have not started yet but I have so far received 37 invitations, on these public ceremonies people expect us to donate on behalf of the Government and because we are patriotic Ugandans, we donate our own money,” he said.
“As for transport and donations on public ceremonies, an LC3 chairperson uses over UGX30 million. This makes it hard for us to fulfil these pledges because we receive pet cash as salaries,” said Ssebale.
Meanwhile Ssebale who also doubles as the coordinator of Local Government activities in greater Mukono says he’s on a campaign to encourage Local Council leaders to have side jobs that will enable them look after families and fulfil pledges on governments behalf as they await for Government to hear their cry.
“Personally am a teacher and builder, these side jobs help me fulfil pledges and for that matter am on a campaign to encourage fellow Local Council leaders to have these side jobs otherwise it’s like the government forgot about us,” he said.
Ssebale also urged government to fulfil its promise of providing transport means to all Local Government leaders saying this is one of the key obstacles that hinder effective performance of their duties.
“Ever since the government promised bicycles to the LC1s, they have never given out even a wheel. Even when the money came it was just robbed, for the sub counties they last distributed motorcycles in 2009 and this has brought about poor performance of Local Government leaders,” he said.
Ssebale further expressed anger over members of Parliament whom he said only focus on their personal interests leaving crucial issues of the Local Governments.
“Even members of parliament that we expect to represent us at National level only mind about their personal interests. Indeed how can you ask for your own salary increments and ignore local government leaders who perform more critical roles than you do,” he said.
Efforts by The Sunrise to get a comment from the Ministry of Local Government were futile as the Public Relations Officer declined to speak and instead referred us to the Permanent Secretary who also failed to pick our calls.