Otafiire’s comments come amid the debate over whether or not coercion is a better and effective means of getting people to engage in development. This comes in the wake of controversy sparked by the Lwengo district LC 5 chairman Godfrey Mutabazi who resorted to canning his residents who had resisted community service of actively participating in roads maintenance popularly known as Bulungibwansi.
“Much as the method might look good enough to coerce citizens into for the sake of the desired service, the bitter truth is that, it is both illegal and unacceptable,” Otafiire said.
Otafiire expressed his reservations about the use of force upon citizens during a cabinet retreat at Munyonyo Resort. His call for caution came shortly after the Mpigi district resident district commissioner (RDC)Fred Bamwine, had hailed Mutabazi as a hero in “rooting out resistance to development.”
Ruling out even the possibility of accommodating corporal punishment in any local government by-laws, Otafiire advised local leaders to instead persuade and sensitize citizens as the only option to counter resistance to community work.
” I would rather you put your heads in the fridge whenever citizens annoy you than taking the law in your arms and cane them,” Otafiire said and added ” I wouldn’t even advise you to provide for corporal punishment because it will still be unconstitutional.”
Aruu County Member of Parliament (MP) Odonga otto is one of the many members of the opposition and National resistance movement (NRM) who have since joined Otafiire in what they have termed as “a stand against a deliberate move to entrench unconstitutionalism in this country.”
“I don’t know why such leaders deliberately decide to ignore our constitution in their endeavors. Who told them that corporal punishment is permissible by our constitution?” Odonga Otto asked.
But several citizens this news paper spoke to have blamed the practice on lack of civic education and awareness to sensitize citizens ahead of such programs.
“Mutabaazi needn’t have cracked the whip if the citizens were sensitized enough to appreciate the importance of the service they were being beaten for, said Simon Wakibugu, a renowned poultry farmer in Najeera Wakiso District.