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Institutions and Local Political Accountability In Uganda: When Do Institutions Really Matter?

Abstract: Despite legal and policy documents providing for formal institutions of accountability, in practice, different institutions exhibit different levels of efficacy due to competition with informal institutions, inadequacies in institutional design and issues with practicability. This paper is based on a study that was conducted in Ntungamo district in Uganda to establish how institutions for political accountability in Uganda’s 1997 Local Governments Act were used in practice. I use mostly primary data collected from 28 Focus Groups in 7 sub counties, and data from Local Council Five (LCV) councilors representing the said seven sub counties at district level at the time. Assessed against timeliness, coverage, interaction, merit, practicability and usage, I find that institutions did not guarantee effective accountability for both its answereability and enforcement dimensions. I recommend a clarification in the conceptual definition of accountability and call for a critical look at the complexities of collective action when designing accountability institutions. Key Words: Accountability, answereability, enforcement, institutions.

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