The role of democratic rights and obligations of citizens in enhancing public service delivery in Uganda
Lubinga, Stellah Nambalirwa
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Irrespective of a two decade-plus long prevalence of several democratic participatory frameworks, and the excellent legal and policy frameworks for citizen participation in Uganda, exercising of democratic rights and obligations of citizens in Uganda is far from reality and the services rendered to the citizens are still poor. As an example of this ill reflection of reality, the electorate is still prone to hand-outs and is easily manipulated into participation. The general awareness level on citizens’ rights and responsibilities has swung out of balance in Uganda — for instance, based on the findings, the right to participate in decision-making and, subsequently, the right to demand for accountability on the quality of services delivered are not commonly known among the citizens in Uganda. The majority of the citizens are not aware of the government initiatives in place supporting citizen participation. Likewise, nepotism and corruption is still increasingly staining politics and government institutions that are supposed to form the basis for participation. Moreover, to a certain extent, there is censorship of the press, and no separation of powers. These not only attesting to the statement that participatory initiatives in Uganda are more like wish lists than substantive statements that are guaranteed in practice, but also raising questions such as: · How relevant have the democratic citizen participatory initiatives been to the actual involvement and participation of citizens in prioritising, planning, and decision-making on issues affecting citizens? · What is the citizen’s knowledge and understanding of the democratic citizen participatory initiatives? · Have the democratic citizen participatory initiatives promoted citizen participation that is strong in order to demand quality service delivery? Thus, to try and answer the above questions, this research aims to establish whether the quality of public services relates to the exercising of democratic rights and obligations of citizens by citizens in Uganda. Specifically focusing on: · documenting the concepts ‘democracy’, ‘democratic rights’, ‘citizen responsibility’ and ‘democratic consolidation’; · realising whether and how fundamental notions of democratic citizenship and democratic participation either undermine or advance public service delivery; · exploring the current state of democratic rights and obligations of citizens in Uganda; · conducting empirical research on the realities and practices regarding the exercise of democratic rights and obligation of citizens as well as assess its implications towards service delivery in Uganda; and · proposing a comprehensive participatory framework for exercising democratic rights and obligations of citizens to improve public service delivery in Uganda. The study employs a mixed-method research approach, conducted on a representative sample of 110 participants, and data collected through extensive literature review. The same literature supported by qualitative interviewing of key officials employed by Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA), as well as a quantitative questionnaire survey based on three variables used to measure the exercise of democratic rights and obligations. Thus based on the findings of the qualitative and quantitative research methods at the univariate and multivariate levels of analysis, the study proposes comprehensive participatory framework for exercising democratic rights and obligations of citizens to improve public service delivery in Uganda.