Training for local council V councillors on Democracy, Governance

January 16, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Political Science, Government
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Training for Local Council V councillors on Democracy, Governance and Accountability KAS-ACFODE program Facilitator: Perry Aritua Districts: Kisoro & Kabale February;2012

Democracy 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 people.

Elements of a democracy What are the key elements or components of a democracy? • 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 programs

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 democracy • Participants give their views on how the challenges in democracy especially at the level of the district can be overcome.

Political Pluralism, Representation & Participation • 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 valued. • 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 council • 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 LCs.

Representation Principles of representation • Ultimate power remains with the people • Decisions made by elected representatives have a binding effect for everybody • 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 elected • 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.

Participation 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 have. • 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 • 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 Uganda • 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 governance • 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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