Parliament Issues 60-Day Ultimatum on LC Polls

2147 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Raphael Magyezi, the chairman of the Public Service and Local Government Committee of Parliament, which scrutinized the bill, says that the absence of a legal LC system for the last 16 years has posed a challenge to governance, service delivery and administration in the villages.

The Electoral Commission has a period of 60-days within which to hold lower administrative council elections. These include Local Council one - LCI, Local Council two - LC II and women councils.

The directive came as Parliament passed the Local Government Amendment Bill 2016, to provide for reduction of the period for the display of the voters' register from 21 to 2 days. It will also reduce the time for campaigns from seven to one day.

Raphael Magyezi, the chairman of the Public Service and Local Government Committee of Parliament, which scrutinized the bill, says that the absence of a legal LC system for the last 16 years has posed a challenge to governance, service delivery and administration in the villages.

Uganda last held local council elections in 2001. The next round of elections which was due in 2006 was halted through a petition filed by Maj Rubaramira Ruranga, the then chairman of the FDC Electoral Commission. In the petition, Rubaramira challenged the process of holding local councils in an arrangement that differed from the requirements of the multiparty dispensation. 

In the committee report, presented before parliament this afternoon, Magyezi observed that the legal status of the current LCs is unknown, while current office bearers have also used the opportunity to impose legal taxes and extort money from citizens.

While insisting that the Electoral Commission must receive an allocation of 15 billion Shillings to organize the elections, Magyezi says there should be adequate time for EC to organize the elections effectively. Government had initially said that only 10 billion Shillings would be availed to the commission, for the task.
 
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However, Shadow minister for Local Government Betty Nambooze however presented a minority report specifically protesting the mode of lining up to vote as a violation of privacy and right to secret vote.
 
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A section of legislators including Busiro East MP Medard Seggona suggested that the law is further amended to revert from lining up to secret ballot.
 
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But this was rejected by the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana who argued that the law needs to be given time for implementation since no election has been held where lining up is required.

State Minister for Lands, Persis Namuganza caused a stir in the House when she stated that the mode of lining up will expose politicians whose affiliations are under question by voters.
 
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The bill now awaits assent by the President within 30 days.
 
The Electoral Commission recently said it will set a date for the elections once Parliament passes the bill and government provides the funds for the polls.

 

About the author

Olive Eyotaru
Olive Eyotaru is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Eyotaru has been a URN staff member since February 2015.

Eyotaru started practising journalism while still studying at Uganda Christian University. She was a reporter with Ultimate Media Consult Ltd between 2005 and 2007.

In 2009, Eyotaru joined Monitor Publications Limited, under KFM Radio as a parliamentary and business reporter. Consequently, Eyotaru started writing for the Daily Monitor newspaper until January 2015, when she moved to URN.

She is interested in reporting about politics, health, human rights, business and sports.