Government Institutions Criticized for Withholding Public Information – The Ankole Times

Government Institutions Criticized for Withholding Public Information

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Government institutions in Uganda are facing criticism for their failure to provide the public with information related to government programs, contracts, and projects, as reported on Wednesday, October 25, 2023.

Despite Uganda’s legislation aimed at facilitating access to information, the lack of transparency surrounding government initiatives has led to concerns. The public has been left uninformed about various government activities.

A recent survey revealed that out of 12,605 requests from the public to access information, only 818 requests were successful, while 11,477 remained unresolved, and 244 requests received no attention.

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In an interview with a publication on Tuesday, Marlon Agaba, the Executive Director of the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, highlighted a lack of harmonization within government agencies, which has caused confusion and contributed to the denial of information to the public. Agaba explained that government agencies often redirect requests to one another, leading to public frustration and a decrease in information requests.

The issue of accessing wealth declarations, governed by the Leadership Code Act, has also been problematic. Agaba noted that there have been no successful attempts to obtain this information, despite over 300,000 public servants declaring their assets and liabilities. Agaba stressed that corruption tends to thrive in secrecy, emphasizing the importance of transparency.

Several government ministries, including ICT and National Guidance, the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), the Inspectorate of Government, and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, have been singled out for hoarding information.

Uganda’s Constitution, in Article 41, enshrines the right of every citizen to access information held by the state, with some exceptions related to security and privacy. However, this right is currently being undermined by a lack of coordination and transparency.

Christine Byiringiro, the Program Manager of Uganda Debt Network, called on government ministries to publish a manual of functions and an index of records for requests received. She urged Parliament to amend the Access to Information Act, 2005, to align it with the Government of Uganda Communication Strategy.

Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister for Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and National Guidance, stated that government information is professionally managed according to established rules. He emphasized that the Access to Information Act provides a framework for accessing government information and suggested that Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) often seek to criticize the government, even when information is shared openly.

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A summary of the success rates for accessing information from various government ministries and agencies is provided in the table below:

Ministry/Agency Successful Unsuccessful Unresolved Total Requests Percentage of Success
Ministry of ICT and National Guidance 6 8 152 166 4%
Directorate of Public Prosecution DPP 1 0 17 18 6%
Inspectorate of Government IGG 5 3 16 24 31%
Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs 0 0 48 48 0%
Ministry of Local Governments 0 0 50 50 0%
National Information Tech Authority 5 4 97 106 5%
Office of the Auditor General 55 0 316 371 17%
Uganda Media Centre 0 1 18 19 0%
Uganda Revenue Authority 164 14 500 705 33%

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Hope Turyomurugyendo has a pivotal role as the Jobs and Tenders Notices Publisher at The Ankole Times. She is driven by a passion for connecting job seekers, entrepreneurs, and businesses with valuable opportunities in Uganda.
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