Grass Roots Accountability Committees (GACs) Model

The Grassroots Accountability Committees (GACs) is one of the oldest models invented by TAC in 2006 to put citizens at the core of service delivery monitoring and later provide the information needed to aid the demand for quality services from the duty bearers. The mode works through organizing communities into GACs who receive training in corruption and accountability concepts to aid them in generating information and compile monitoring reports on issues affecting service delivery. As a mechanism of fulfilling objective two of the NACs that seeks to empower citizens to participate in anticorruption measures at national and local levels coupled with the realization that un organized and disempowered citizens is one of the key drivers of corruption , we see this model as a tool for stimulating community interest in matters of corruption especially at lower local governments. In our view, the success of this model is grounded in Article 17(1)d of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda and this provides the basis upon which partners hoping to replicate this model find legal base to apply this model.

Apart from TAC, this model is also used by Transparency International Uganda (TIU) , Anticorruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) among others. While TAC rides on the structure of Grassroots Accountability Committees (GACs), TIU uses Volunteer Action Committees (VACs) while ACCU uses Independent Budget Monitors (IBMs) among other terminologies. Our realization is that the concept of voluntarism cuts across all the partners using this model. The greatest risk though is the fact that overdependence in voluntarism is often subjective and people understand voluntarism differently. For example, in the UN terminology, voluntarism attracts pay while for other organizations, volunteers are not entitled to any form of pay. Another weakness is in terms of whistle blower protection. Although Uganda enshrined the Volunteer Protection Act 2010, Uganda’s are still grappling with issues of how this law is operates and hence remain reserved in practice. Even partners who have excelled in the use of this model are yet to understand the operations of the law as well as put in place internal mechanisms for protecting the whistle blowers. Lastly, this model is costly in terms of training and facilitating the committee members to keep abreast with the emerging issues and concepts of corruption and refresh them in terms of knowledge and skills.

Because this models operates through direct engagement with leaders and issues raised as seen above, it poses a threat to community members especially while the whistle blower protection law is not clearly understood by those willing to expose and report corruption. We recommend that partners willing to replicate this model lobby for simplification of this law for easy understanding and advocate with those in authority to make sure that they guarantee the protection required by the whistle blowers. On the basis of the above, partners replicating this model have these concerns to consider.