In 2006, the government introduced Imihigo (performance contracts) as yet another addition to an array of innovative home-grown programmes designed to accelerate the country’s reconstruction and development process.
Indeed, five years down the road, Imihigo, signed at the beginning of every financial year by district mayors, in the presence of the Head of State, have changed the country is so many ways, with every district registering remarkable progress.
And, the programme has increasingly become more effective as districts aspire to outdo each other, with the best performers assured of prizes at the end of the annual development race.
As a result, even the districts that rank lowest, for one reason or another, in a particular year are able to reasonably improve the living conditions of their people, and still endeavour to score highly in the next round.
Imihigo have taught many local government leaders how best to engage and listen to their people, as they realise that broad participation and citizen ownership are critical to success.
However, with several reports indicating that service delivery is slower at the grassroots compared to the national level, district leaders and, indeed, the local population need to use Imihigo to demand better services from the grassroots authorities.
Since the performance contracts outline specific targets to be achieved in a pre-determined timeframe, residents, through their respective advisory councils, can hold their leaders to account, and show them the exit if necessary.
It is imperative that the ordinary people actively use Imihigo to assess their leaders and to directly participate in changing their lives for the better.