The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) says it is appropriate for the United Nations to relocate its Regional Service Centre in Entebbe (RSCE) to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. The party spokesman was quoted in yesterday’s Daily Monitor newspaper to have said whereas “we all want the UN Centre to remain in the country, but if we have to deal with our economy, then they need to relocate so that the government can wake up”.
Secretary-general Antonio Guterres has proposed wide-ranging reforms to the administration of the UN, subject to approval by the body’s Administration and Budget Committee. Under the Global Service Delivery Model (GSDM) reforms, the UN secretariat wants to consolidate its regional centres to three locations: Nairobi, Budapest and the City of Mexico.
Thus the Entebbe centre will cease to exist or transform to a facility of re-arranged service level and opportunities. It is in this context that we locate and scrutinise the Opposition party’s position.
First, we do not know if the party leadership sat, discussed and agreed on this matter. Whereas an inquisitorial line is apt to hold the government to account for the economic and governance malaise in the country, we reject opposing anything simply because the government supports it.
RSCE employs 427 staff, two-thirds of them Ugandans. Their collective spending, alongside that of some 6,000 annual official UN guests, brings in millions of dollars. The socio-economic impact of this foreign exchange earning is evident in the booming real estate sector in and around Entebbe.
Hoteliers enjoy comfortable bookings, restaurants snap up food and other merchandise from vendors, who in turn, buy from farmers and manufacturers. This is a trickle down dividend of the Centre that fully supports 13 UN missions in Africa. The Ugandan employees there handling backend administrative work are honing their skills critical for future international civil service or diplomatic jobs.
We should be proud of them and the opportunities available. It is our position that the FDC, which has prospects of leading this country, should exhibit more maturity than the ruling National Resistance Movement by fighting for people-centred openings such as the RSCE.
Peaceful co-existence and international cooperation is one of nine core FDC leadership principles.
The party articulates on its website that it believes this is necessary “pre-condition for socio-economic development and transformation at all levels”.
It is our position that endorsing relocation of RSCE, which will continue to benefit Uganda and elevate its profile long after President Museveni’s departure, is akin to pressing the self-destruct button.