It is a firmly held notion in academic circles that one should refrain from speaking in public without proper research, as academic research enhances credibility when making inferences. Recently, Makerere University Mbale Branch commissioned a survey titled ‘How can knowledge of administrative law officers’ course enhance improved performance among local government employees in the Eastern Region,’ and several districts were purposefully sampled. Such surveys contribute to the academic community’s ability to evaluate and accept or reject certain policy decisions.
However, an incident in Bukedi region involving the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of one district improperly terminating a sub-county chief, instead of following proper interdiction and disciplinary procedures, raised concerns. Similarly, in Sebei region, an LCV chairman interdicted a CAO, placing them on half pay and restricting travel without permission. When the aggrieved parties petitioned the court, it deemed these actions illegal and invalid.
Many instances of staff termination without adherence to established procedures are attributed to a lack of legal awareness. Court-awarded remedies often divert resources from essential sectors like education, roads, and health. On average, such actions incur local government spending of about 500 million to 1 billion shillings annually, encroaching on budgets meant for other crucial sectors.
The root of these issues lies in a lack of knowledge of the law, not only among lower-ranking officials but even among Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs). This emphasizes the importance of legal knowledge in preventing actions that may lead to litigation, as demonstrated in various cases, including the Kapchorwa situation and disputes in Butaleja and Mbale Municipal Council.
In a democratic society, the law should regulate public life, ensuring that every public action is supported by an enabling provision. The knowledge of constitutional law, including the tripartite system of governance and the doctrine of checks and balances, is crucial, extending down to local governments.
Administrative law can teach public accountability, emphasizing that those who exercise power must be ready to account for any excesses or shortcomings. This includes holding public bodies accountable for performing their statutory duties and preventing bureaucratic overreach.
The survey on the role of law in curbing corruption and aiding local government employees yielded significant findings. Over 90% of the surveyed employees acknowledged that a lack of knowledge of the law contributed to the commission and omission of white-collar crimes. This supports the conclusion that knowledge of administrative law is a necessary remedy to address such issues.
District Education Officer Madam Lydia Musungu’s endorsement of the course reflects the potential benefits of administrative law studies. She emphasized the importance of the course in mitigating forces that undermine effective service, instilling knowledge about common crimes, and serving as a deterrent.
The groundbreaking survey sampled over 300 employees in the study districts, and its authoritative findings and conclusions are encouraged for consideration by those still outside the legal enforcement’s grasp. The narrative concludes with Mr. Masiga being identified as a researcher and PhD student from Mbale.