Decentralization and Conflict in Uganda: Governance Adrift

by Terrell G. Manyak & Isaac Wasswa Katono


This study examines the challenges that threaten one of Africa’s most ambitious experiments in political, administrative and fiscal decentralization. Based on extensive interviews with local government leaders throughout Uganda, the research uncovered a complex interplay of conflicts that impact decision-making effectiveness. The sources of these conflicts center around (a) the impact of national politics on local government as the country approaches the 2011 election, (b) the inability to meet rising citizen demand for services as the tax base of local governments continues to erode, (c) the corrosive impact of social conflicts stemming mostly from poverty and illiteracy complicated by tribal and ethnic differences, and (d) the challenges of developing honest and effective leadership in local government. Can Uganda unravel this web of conflicts to bring meaningful governance to this young nation? Indeed, many countries within the developing world are watching this experiment with a great deal of interest.

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Terrell G. Manyak is Professor of Public Administration and Management at the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He holds and MPA degree from the Maxwell School of Public Affairs at Syracuse University and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles. He spent the 2008-2009 academic year as a visiting professor at Uganda Christian University under a Rotary Foundation Teaching Grant. He previously served as visiting lecturer at the University of Khartoum, Sudan Republic. His research focus is on issues of governance and economic development in developing countries as well as comparative cultural value systems.

Isaac Wasswa Katono is the Coordinator of Research and Chair of Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Management, Faculty of Business, at Uganda Christian University. He holds an MBA degree from Makerere University in Uganda and was formerly the Secretary of Finance and Planning for Mukono District Council. His research focus is on organizational behavior and marketing issues as they impact management in the private and public sectors. His publications include studies of conflict management and the impact of the microfinance industry on the Ugandan economy.