Every one needs a manifesto

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Every one needs a manifesto
Everest Turyahikayo, Manager, Uganda


During the recent presidential and parliamentary campaigns, all contesting candidates had manifestos. The word manifesto originated from Latin manifestum meaning clear or obvious to the eye. Today manifestos are generally understood as public declarations of principles and intentions, often political in nature. These principles and intentions can originate from individual political candidates in a non-party political system or from a group of members within a political party. As such, manifestos clearly indicate priority areas which must be tackled by the political candidate. Most of these areas include health, roads, education, agriculture, security and good governance free of corruption. There is a tendency by some people to think that individual politicians can fulfill whatever they promise in their manifestos without a collective effort.
One former US president John F. Kennedy once said “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. If this remark was to be made at every political rally, supporters of a political candidate would know that before they ask their candidate to produce a manifesto, they must first have theirs. A collection of individual manifestos make a community manifesto. Community intentions, desires and needs have an impact on the national development.
Quite often, some politicians seeking re-election find it difficult to convince their electorate why they did not fulfils me promises. Surprisingly, one finds that at the community and household level, there are people who did not fulfill their obligations. It is common to see some parents who do not sent their children to school yet there is free primary and secondary education for all. Even when the government establishes garbage collection centres, some people choose to throw garbage wherever they choose. When the government established health units at the parish level, some people continued with their old ways of visiting witch doctors for simple illnesses like cough and malaria. Politicians can design and implement very good manifestos. However, without a collective effort, and realizing that development starts at the individual level, little success can be attained.
In respect of this therefore, every responsible citizen must have an individual manifesto. Individual manifestos can make corporate organizations flourish. Communities can move forward with everyone implementing their manifestos. Objective personal manifestos can help to eliminate all the evils in society.
Individual manifestos that spell out personal or household priorities enhance accountability at that level. If households can account for their plans, activities and expenditure of family resources, then accountability at the political levels is simplified. People tend to be vigilant about issues affecting their affairs when they understand the implications of certain courses of action. If they do not have individual manifestos, they become passive. They sit on the development band-wagon without knowing the next destination.
Manifestos have financial implications as they depict sources of funds to implement the plans. At the household level, manifestos would act as a driving force towards resource mobilization. If the government has introduced NAADS or constructed a feeder road, how do families intend to make use of such initiatives? I have travelled on some Ugandan roads especially Iganga-Mbale and Tirinyi roads only to see people drying cassava and maize on these roads. Such roads can be made more meaningful than just drying cassava.
Apart from assisting households to assess themselves, manifestos provide a time frame within which to implement certain plans. In this direction, individual citizens can assess themselves after a given period of time to see if they fulfilled their promises before blaming politicians. However, as supervisors of government programmes, politicians should keep an ear to the ground in guiding communities and participating in assessing their development challenges.

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