AbstractsPolitical Science

The Politics of Public Policy Decisions in Local Government in Uganda

by Jane Ayeko-Kümmeth

Institution: Universität Bayreuth
Department: Kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Record ID: 1111700
Full text PDF: https://epub.uni-bayreuth.de/2053/


This thesis examines the question of social, political and economic factors that influence public policy decisions in Uganda’s local government. Since local government is decentralised, the study explores these factors within this arrangement in order to find out how public policy decisions are made considering the many actors that the policy incorporated from within and outside government. I explore the institutional and structural set up of local government and how it works, the process through, which decisions are made, which actors are involved and the dynamics that come into play. In addition I examine the environment under which local government operates. I use one research strategy namely qualitative analysis of empirical data collected in four districts. Data was majorly collected through face to face interviews, focus group discussions and participatory observation, but also supplemented by archive material and media reports. The study observes that the complex nature of decentralisation facilitated the establishment of power centres which then served as avenues of dominion. On the other hand the embracement of non-state actors such as religious and traditional leaders did not only diversify the groups of actors therein involved, but also granted them the opportunity to penetrate the decision making cycle. Often times, each of these actors represent different interests. Decentralisation thus created opportunities and possibilities that may not have been available to certain actors prior to it. Therefore understanding how public policy decisions are mapped necessitates knowledge of socio-political and economic factors surrounding decision makers. Politically, the atmosphere is characterised by power struggles, arbitrary use of power, patronage networks, and concentration of power in the executive. The economic environment is characterised by heavy dependence where local government rely on remittances from central government, which also relies on foreign aid. The local government council which is the decision making body is incapable of making policy decisions which it can implement because local government does not have the financial power to do so. The country’s humble economic state implies that politicians too may be caught in the poverty cycle hence have to depend on external sources to fund their access and/ or stay in power. The social environment is occupied by resilient non-state actors who command high social acceptance. The amalgamation of actors from within and outside government amid weak formal institutions translates into uncertainty. I argue that local government in Uganda operates under unpredictable social, political and economic environment making the process of decision making equally volatile. As a result public policy decisions take the form of neo-patrimonialism as actors endeavour to accommodate each actor’s interests. Therefore although legal instruments such as the Local Government Act and the constitution grant local government the authority to make policy decisions within their…