Assessing the role and capacity of civil society organisations in holding local government accountable in Uganda
Fourie, D.J. (David Johannes)
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Decentralised local government is arguably the most direct mechanism of ensuring that the local leaders are accountable to the citizens, in form of downward accountability. Civil society participation is thus seen as a rationale to foster civic competence and empowerment that enables civil society to hold local governments to account. However, for the civil society to succeed in this critical role, they must have strong and viable institutional capacity and organisational arrangements, as well as the enabling legislative and operational environment. This article presents results of a fieldwork and literature study conducted to evaluate the role and capacity of civil society in holding local governments (LGs) accountable in Uganda. The study revealed that the colonial/historical ills still cast a shadow over the current state and character of local civil society organisations (CSOs) in Uganda, as it heralds mixed fortunes. The capacity of CSOs to hold government to account is affected by, their inter-organisational deficiencies, the regulatory regime, the CSO elite-urban capture, the CSO-donor relations, and the desire by most CSOs to engage in business/profit contracts with government that makes it easier to inter alia complement the work of government than questioning it. The article reviews interventions and mechanisms to enhance the capacity of CSOs to promote accountability on the local government level in Uganda.