Training for local council V councillors on Democracy, Governance

Training for Local Council V
councillors on Democracy,
Governance and Accountability
KAS-ACFODE program
Facilitator: Perry Aritua
Districts: Kisoro & Kabale
What is democracy?
• “a form of government in which power & civic responsibility are
exercised by all adult citizens, directly or indirectly through their
freely elected representatives”
• Key element of democracy is participation of people or their
representatives in decision making. What are the advantages of
involving people/representatives in decision making?...ownership of
decisions, collation of ideas prior to decision making. Decisions are
informed by public views and opinions. May produce less acrimony
and conflict as a result of people participation.
Other benefits of democracy: leaders are accountable to the people,
tolerance of divergent views, political decisions reflect will of the
Elements of a democracy
What are the key elements or components of a
• Holding regular, free and fair elections
• Multiparty system where two or more parties compete for power
• Respect for rule of law and civil liberties
• Sharing of democratic values e.g. Tolerance, fairness, mutual
respect, honesty, accountability, transparency
• Separation of powers
• Respect for the constitution thus promotion of constitutionalism
• Participation of citizens in decision making
• Equality
• Political tolerance
• Elected government responsible for all citizens
Key institutions in a democracy
Success of democracy is dependent on strong institutions
• Institutions in a democracy include: Executive, Judiciary, Parliament,
media, non-state actors e.g. CSOs/NGOS
What role does each play?
• Executive-Implements laws an d policies
• Judiciary-interprets the laws
• Parliament-makes laws
• Parties—ruling party and opposition party (ies)..
• Ruling party—Government in power. Runs the government and
uses its manifesto to do this.
• Opposition-Party that does not form government. Is important
because it checks government excesses, provides alternative
policies etc
Importance of the role of institutions
in a democracy
Why is the role of each institution important?
• Check government because the ruling party is given the peoples
mandate to govern in accordance with the will of citizens and in line
with laws of the country.
• Provide information –media, citizens, opposition, CSOs to enable
government improve where its lacking.
• Complement government programs e.g. Deliver services to citizens
like health, education etc—CSOs
• Advocate for good governance, democracy and accountabilitymedia, CSOs, opposition
• Each institution has established expertise thereby making it easier
to fulfil its mandate.
• Citizens-Monitor and report on implementation of government
Challenges of democratic governance
• lack of very strong civil society;
• poverty undermines many citizens from making
independent decisions;
• lack of strong political parties with functioning structures;
• partisan security organs;
• lack of effective civic education;
• limited resources for government bodies civil society and
• political parties;
• expensive litigation process;
• limitations on bill of rights by some overzealous political
activists; lack of tolerance of divergent views; deficiency in
electoral contests; & lack of transparency & accountability
Prospects for democratic governance
• promoting independent media; building
strong civil society;
• enforcing rule-of-law;
• sensitizing citizens & security agencies on
human rights issues;
• strengthening national anti-corruption
institutions e.g. IGG, Auditor General
Overcoming the challenges in a
• Participants give their views on how the
challenges in democracy especially at the level
of the district can be overcome.
Political Pluralism, Representation &
• Political pluralism: System where diversity of opinions
exists and freedom of expression is promoted and
tolerance of divergent views exists. Freedom of
association is a norm and parties ideas and views are
• Representation: Power which lies with the citizens is
delegated to selected individuals to make decisions on
behalf of the citizens.
• Participation: citizens being involved in governance.
This can be through established structures or civil
associations. Citizens can participate in elections,
monitor conduct of public affairs etc.
Political pluralism
• Political pluralism in Uganda has been embraced
through adoption of multiparty system of
governance following the referendum in 2005.
• The different parties are free to compete for
political positions and express their opinions once
in leadership.
• An individual’s view should not be disregarded
simply because it contradicts the view of
government or party power.
Political pluralism in local governments
• Different parties may have representatives in the local
• Various stakeholders are involved in decision making
• Views of different interest groups should be considered
in decision making...women, PWDs, youth
• How can LC deal with diversity of opinion and
belonging to effectively deliver services to the people
and represent them as enshrined in the LGA?
Participants give their views and share plans on what
they can do differently to address issues of diversity in
Principles of representation
• Ultimate power remains with the people
• Decisions made by elected representatives have a binding effect for
• The power of representatives is limited to the tasks they are
assigned by law, policies and guidelines
• Power of representatives is limited to the time for which they are
• The final judge of the performance of representatives will always be
with the people
• The representatives should listen to the people and make decisions
in their interests
Find out what participants understand by representation before
sharing some of the above ideas with them.
Relevance of participation
• Democratic representation occurs in two ways:
people can participate through established
structures of the adopted form of democracy or
through alternative ways like civil associations.
• Participation of citizens is important in
democracy for several reasons: promotes
accountability and transparency, checks public
officials from excesses, creates ownership for
decisions made.
Get more answers from participants
Channels of participation
• Through elections—by voting for candidates of
one’s choice
• Monitor delivery of government services and
express their opinions on observations.
• Citizens can also participate: through involvement
in community activities
• Through media-making commentaries and giving
opinions on issues of governance among others.
Participants give more views on how locals
participate in democracy in the district
Rule of law, individual freedoms and
human rights
• Rule of law: equality before the law regardless of status, gender,
political affiliation. All are treated equally in accordance with the
laws of Uganda. If one commits a crime the law takes its cause
regardless of who he/she is.
• Individual freedoms: These are provided for in the Constitution of
Uganda and are necessary for one to participate in governance. For
instance freedom of expression and speech make it possible for one
to give his/her opinions on issues of public importance. Other
freedoms include: freedom of association. This allows one to join a
party of his/her choice.
• Human rights: God-given rights which one is born with. They can
not be taken away from you unless through due process of law.
They must be exercised responsibly. For instance one cannot allege
freedom of movement and settle on registered land of another. This
amounts to trespass and abuse of another person’s rights to land.
Human rights
• Have their origin in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948
• In 1977 the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights were
established. There are also other instruments related to rights of women,
children, PWDs, workers etc. All these are meant to check governments
and to ensure that it protects its citizens. They also give government
responsibility to provide for citizens within the resources that they may
• Uganda is party to several UN conventions and has domesticated some of
them through passing laws.
• For instance promoting health, education, economic rights of citizens is a
responsibility of government. Citizens pay taxes to get services.
Government therefore has responsibility to provide services. That is why it
develops a manifesto which it should use to promote the rights of citizens
through developing the necessary infrastructure.
• Participants provide examples of gaps in rule of law and human rights in
their district and lay strategies of how to address them.
Good governance & accountability
• Governance is the process of decision making and how
decisions are implemented or not implemented
• Good governance: has elements that making decision
making processes transparent and allow for
participation of citizens.
It has elements of
accountability, equity, responsive to the needs of
citizens and areas where improvement is sought and
equality is a norm where good governance is practiced.
No one is above the law and all are treated equally.
Institutions function and effectiveness and efficiency
are fundamental norms.
• Accountability requires that all elected or unelected public
officials/leaders to explain their decisions & actions to
citizens; there are several types of accountability(political,
social, bureaucratic, financial, etc.)
• Accountability can be achieved legally, administratively and
politically. Use to illustrate this
• Participants reflect on how they are managing public
affairs and using public resources and how they are
making decisions. They identify gaps and areas that they
need to improve and those where they are doing well. The
best practices in areas where they are doing well can be
used to improve areas where gaps are detected.
Democracy and local governance in
• Participants describe the main features of
Uganda’s political system, local governance and
decentralization-They can use their district to
describe the features
• Sharing local experiences on democracy and local
• Action planning...some of the gaps already
identified in previous sessions can be used to
plan and lay strategies for improving
accountability, governance and democracy in
local councils.

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