New districts to wait till next year to elect leaders

Eight months on, government has still not found funds to organize elections in six newly created districts, and with seven more new districts expected to become operational at the beginning of next financial year, the budget is certainly going to shoot up.

Six districts namely, Nabilatuk, Bugweri, Kassanda, Kwania, Kapelebyong and Kikuube became operational on July 1, 2018 throwing the Electoral Commission (EC) into the process of conducting elections for Woman MPs as well as LC 5 Chairpersons.

The process was however halted mid-way after government failed to fully fund the EC’s budget for the elections.

The State Minister for Planning, David Bahati, told Parliament that the Ministry is still waiting for a response from the EC on whether it can organise the elections using its original budget for the current financial year.

“Parliament did not budget for this item [elections], we are finding it difficult to conduct elections in these districts,” Bahati told MPs during Parliament’s plenary sitting on Tuesday.

“We are consulting with the Attorney General and others to see if they can be held next year. At the moment there are no resources to conduct the elections, he added.

Seven other districts of Obongi, Kazo, Rwampara, Kitagwenda, Madi-Okollo, Karenga and Lusot will become effective on July 1.

Bahati’s statement riled legislators, who questioned why government created the new administrative units but failed to budget for elections of their representatives.

“Right now the fundamental services required by those people are representation, administrative and governance. What services are being extended to the new districts?” Nsereko wondered.

 

Kassiano Wadri (Arua Municipality) wondered why  government is quick in moving motions to create the new administrative units without factoring in the attendant costs, warning that people resident in the new districts where elections have not been held could end up going to court over failure to elect their representatives.

Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, faulted government for failing to meet its own undertakings, having requested to phase the operationalization of the entities but failing to budget for them in annual budgets.

“These were government resolutions; you said you were ready to proceed this way [phasing the start of the districts], what is the problem?  This was not done at short notice. It was your work plan which should have been accommodated,” Oulanyah said.

 

The new administrative units were created in September 2015 despite warnings from the Secretary to the treasury Keith Muhakanizi about the sustainability of new administrative units.