UBOS blames local governments for census woes

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The sixth National Population and Census, flagged off on May 10, encountered significant setbacks, with delays and failures plaguing the initial day of the exercise.

In Mbale and other areas, enumerators failed to log into the digital system, causing the census to stall. Particularly in Namakwekwe and Nabuyonga wards of Mbale City, the census did not commence as expected.

Enumerators also voiced concerns over the lack of essential items such as reflector jackets, bags, gumboots, and training allowances further hampering the census process.

Residents, anticipating the census, spent the entire day waiting in vain for enumerators to arrive, sparking criticism and public outrage.

The failures sparked criticism and public outrage with some critics demanding apologies from UBOs for wasting time.

The first day was critical because it would set the pace and build confidence in the 9 days’ census period.

The failures sparked criticism and public outrage with some critics demanding apologies from UBOs for wasting time.

UBOS executive director Chris Mukiza acknowledged the challenges faced on the first day but assured the public that the census would continue for the remaining eight days.

However, Mukiza shifted blame for the census kickoff mess onto local governments, alleging recruitment sabotage in a press release.

“We started making alarm in the first week of April when we got rumors that local governments are not calling those who applied online,”  Mukiza said while appearing on the Capital Gang show on Capital FM on Saturday.

The census boss pointed fingers at political leaders, particularly in Kampala, where he claimed some mayors facilitated the recruitment of unverified applicants.

He revealed that out of the required 114,000 enumerators, 20,000 had not been assigned responsibilities on the system due to backdoor recruitment influenced by local government authorities.

The backdoor recruitment watered down UBOS’s online application an sieving protocol that required all applications to go through the online process including aptitude test.

“I got news that many local governments worked behind that system by calling their own people who did not apply online to come for interviews and turned away eligible online applicant,” Mukiza said.

To address the crisis, UBOS adopted the alleged parallel recruited enumerators, totaling 20,000 and logged them into the system.

Despite these challenges, UBOS managed to cover 560,000 households out of the target of 1,000,000 according to Mukiza.

The census failures highlight the need for improved coordination between UBOS and local governments to ensure the smooth execution of future census exercises and maintain the integrity of data collection processes.

Additionally, Mukiza blamed the failure to avail enumerators on limited capacity of suppliers who were suppling items like bags, aprons among others piecemeal.

However, critics have asked UBOS to own the mess having failed to deliver as expected despite 10 years of preparation.

“A perfect working day has been wasted, but nobody will lose their job, or even a single day’s allowance over this debacle, nobody will even bother to apologise. Complacency blind acceptance of abuse,” city lawyer David Mpanga posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Peter G. Mwesigye associated the failures with incompetence, Sinicism, corruption, trust deficit.

Kira Municipality legislator Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda criticised UBOs for relegating its mandate to local politicians and blaming them.

“Because the moment you don’t start well, you are going to create a problem of trust in the outcome of an exercised riddled with problems,” he said.

Bugweri County Abdu Katuntu said UBOs concentrated efforts on emphasising the obvious significance of the census than addressing the question of conducting a credible census.

Katuntu described Mukiza’s revelation as admission of incompetence and interference.

He said the challenges have dented the integrity of the entire process and its outcome.

“This country needs process badly,” he lamented.

Cornered by the critics, Mukiza acknowledged that there was some negligence of duty among some UBOS officials.

“I have given last warning that if they don’t assign access rights today,” he said.

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