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The East African : Oct 10th 2015
18 HONOUR AFTER ARAB SPRING The EastAfrican NEWS OCTOBER 10-16,2015 What UNRA mass ≥est≥uctu≥ing will cost the taxpaye≥ By JULIUS BARIGABA The EastAfrican THE ONGOING mass restructuring at the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) is expected to bring reforms and improve efficiency but the exercise comes with a huge cost to the taxpayer. The authority seeks to Tunisians wave the national flag and chant slogans during a march against extremism in Tunis on March 29.. Picture: AFP National dialogue quartet in Tunisia win Nobel Peace Prize The fou≥ o≥ganisations helped to ave≥t c≥isis witnessed in othe≥ count≥ies afte≥ the A≥ab Sp≥ing By SEWELL CHAN New York Times News Service A coalition of labour unions, businesses, lawyers and human rights activists won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday “for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.” The prize to the coali- tion, known as the National Dialogue Quartet, comes nearly five years after an unemployed street vendor set himself on fire, touching off a political earthquake that toppled Tunisia’s longtime authoritarian president and proceeded to reverberate throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Among the disappoint- ments of what has become known as the Arab Spring — collapsed states in Libya, Syria and Yemen; the return of rule by a military strongman in Egypt; and the rise of the Islamic State in the sectarian caldron of Syria and Iraq — the relative success of Tunisia’s transition to democracy has been a wisp of hope. The quartet comprises four organisations: The Tunisian General Labour Union; the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts; the Tunisian Human Rights League; and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers. But the Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasised that the prize “is awarded to this quartet, not to the four individual organisations as such.” The quartet joins 103 indi- viduals and 22 organisations honoured by the prize. (The International Committee of the Red Cross has won three times, and the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees twice.) Kaci Kullmann Five, chair- woman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said the prize was above all intended as “an encouragement to the Tunisian people.” “The Arab Spring origi- nated in Tunisia in 2010 and 2011, but it quickly spread to other countries in North African and the Middle East,” said Ms Five, who announced the prize in Oslo. “In many of these countries, the struggle for democracy and human rights has come to a standstill or suffered setbacks. Tunisia, however, has seen a democratic transition based on vibrant civil society, with demands for respect of basic human rights.” In Tunisia, the winners re- joiced. “Congratulations to Tuni- sia, to the quartet and to all parties that facilitated the mission of the quartet,” the Labour union’s secretarygeneral, Houcine Abassi, told Radio Mosaique FM, a Tunisian station. “This prize came at the right time, because our country is still threatened by different security challenges.” The president of the Hu- man Rights League, Abdessattar Ben Moussa, told the radio station, “It proves that dialogue is the only way to solve a crisis and not weapons.” In a Facebook video, Presi- dent Beji Caid Essebsi called the award a triumph of negotiation over violence. “Tunisia has no other solution but dialogue,” he said, adding, “We are facing a war against terrorism, and we can’t win unless we stay together.” Tunisia, a former French colony that achieved independence in 1956, has been the crucible of momentous change since the street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, spurring gigantic demonstrations. Days after the vendor died “Tunisia has no other solution but dialogue.” Beji Caid Essebsi, Tunisian President in January 2011, the protests forced the country’s longtime dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, into exile. The Islamist Ennahda Party won the most votes in parliamentary elections that October, but it fell short of an outright majority. PROMOTE PEACE Alfred Nobel’s 1895 established a prize for “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” In August 2012, thousands took to the streets of Tunis, the capital, to protest a proposal to, among other things, remove the full equality of women and men guaranteed in the 1956 Constitution — and undo a secular political tradition that the French left behind. The backlash against Ennahda paralleled events in Egypt, where huge demonstrations led to a military coup in 2013 against the one-year-old government of President Mohammed Morsi, a leader of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood. The four groups honoured on Friday helped Tunisia avert such an outcome. They helped Tunisia negotiate its way through the most serious threat to its nascent transition: the crisis that followed the assassinations of two opposition politicians, Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, in 2013. Giant protests that summer threatened to undo the democratically elected government, led by Ennahda. The Islamists refused to cede power until they completed their mandate to pass a new constitution. An earthmover during construction of a road. Picture: File nearly double the staff numbers and put in place a new salary structure that can compete in the market. Besides 80 senior managers who were sacked in June, another 890 staff were given notice of collective termination at the end of September. But the latter were told to reapply as the authority seeks to clean up and build a robust team of 1,736 staff. Relative to the existing staff, 1,736 is a big number and will take a chunk of tax money, but it is informed by the need to handle most of the work in-house, UNRA executive director Allen Kagina said. “The wage bill will be higher because we are trying to bring here some of the functions, such as supervision, design of roads and bridges...these were previously outsourced,” Ms Kagina told The EastAfrican. At 18.2 per cent of total resource allocations in the 2015/16 budget, translating into Ush3.32 trillion ($910 million), the road transport sector already takes the lion’s share of budget allocations, but Ms Kagina also indicated that UNRA still needs to recruit and retain the best workforce available in the market. UNRA board of direc- tors chairperson Angela Kiryabwire Kanyima, who signed the notice of comprehensive restructuring on September 29, said although the authority had since its creation in 2008 executed a number of good road projects, it needed to operate like a modern business. “UNRA has continued to execute its statutory mandate with a lot of inefficiencies, thereby undermining the essential principles of its establishment under Section 3 of the UNRA Act, that is, to operate in an economic, cost-effective and businesslike manner,” she wrote. Speaking to journalists in Kampala on October 5, Ms Kagina also decried the high level of inefficiency at UNRA that was attributed to, among other things, low pay. “We cannot expect ef- ficiency at UNRA if we pay a good engineer Ush4 million ($1,100) when his peers are earning three of four times more out there in the private sector,” she said. “Of course we cannot say we will match the private sector salaries, but we will pay well enough to retain good workers.” For a long time, UNRA was the cause of concern among key donors of the road sector due to a high level of corruption in the award of tenders, staff working with expired contracts and flouting of procurement rules. The most dramatic was the tender awarded to a ghost American company to build the 74km Mukono-Katosi-Nyenga road. The government gave Eutaw Construction Company Inc. a Ush24.8 billion ($6.8 million) advance payment before discovering that the outfit had issued forged insurance bonds. Eutaw then illegally sub- contracted 100 per cent of the Ush165 billion ($45.4 million) project to Chinese firm Chongqing International, an investigation report revealed.
Oct 3rd 2015
Oct 17th 2015