The Opposition in Parliament has given the government a 30-day ultimatum to organize the Local Council (LC) elections.
The ultimatum was issued at a press conference in which Shadow Ministers, Betty Ethel Naluyima (Local Government), Brenda Nabukenya (Education), Gorreth Namugga (Science and Innovation), Helen Nakimuli (Fisheries) and Yusuf Nsibambi (Works and Transport) communicated their position on the legality of the village and parish councils whose five-year mandate expired on Monday, 10 July 2023.
“We demand that the government immediately organises the elections for the LCs as the law stipulates,” Naluyima said.
Last week, the Minister for Local Government, Hon. Raphael Magyezi told Parliament that the government had postponed the LC elections since it did not have the Shs59 billion required by the Electoral Commission to organize them.
The current LC I and LC II leaders were voted into office in 2018.
Naluyima said that the government’s decision to postpone the elections is illegal as it contravenes the provisions of the Constitution and Section 170 of the Local Government Act which provides for the election of local government and administrative councils every five years.
Under the Third Schedule of the Local Government Act, the minister can extend the tenure of local leaders for a period not exceeding six months if the country is in a state of war or if a state of emergency has been declared under the Constitution, Naluyima stated.
The MPs argued that without fresh elections being held, the current LC I chairpersons cannot issue legally acceptable recommendations for identification documents, endorse property sale agreements or settle community disputes.
“It is the reverse being done. Most of the chairpersons in the areas we represent are confused, they don’t know what to do. There are land transactions going on…they are supposed to stamp and sign them but don’t know what to do. There is going to be a lot of confusion in the country,” said Nakimuli.
Hon. Nabukenya added that, ’the existing local councils are illegal…they cannot support communities effectively. It is a danger to have expired local councils and failure for government to organise elections will increase insecurity’.
They also watered down Magyezi’s explanation of the absence of funds to organize the elections since the Ministry of Finance released an excess of Shs159 billion for domestic arrears in its first quarter release.
“How can they fail to get the money? If in the first quarter releases, they have released beyond and above what they had planned in the budget, so, how can you inform Ugandans that we don’t have money? We have the money and they will improvise and have it,” said Namugga.
Ngora District Woman Representative, Hon. Stella Apolot Isodo demanded that besides the LC I and II elections, the government should also urgently organize for the women’s council elections since the existing councils expired in August 2022.
“How can we say there is no money when we have a Shs52 trillion budget? They are always asking for supplementary,” said Isodo.