Parliament today gave government two weeks within which to set the election date for LC1 chairpersons and their committees.
The directive came after a close to thirty minutes debate on the fate of the Local Council one councils with MPs questioning whether government still takes them as important to the democratic governance of the country.
The debate started by Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze who rose on a matter of national importance and asked the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, “to precisely inform Parliament when Government intends to carry out elections of the Local council 1 elections.”
“When will Government carry out LC1 elections and district councilors? I have people in my constituency asking and waiting to campaign for their candidates” said Nambooze
The Minister for Justice, Maj.Gen. Kahinda Otafiire turned and tossed steering clear of committing government on the exact date for the elections reasoning that government doesn’t have money since Parliament did not budget for the activity
“I don’t want to tell lies, we don’t have money for the LC1 elections, but if you have money you can fund this election” said Otafiire
The Deputy Speaker,Jacob Oulanyah however, could have none of that.
“I am guiding that the Minister of Justice reports to Parliament in two weeks’ time telling us the exact date the elections will be held. Nothing less and nothing more,” he said.
If the Minister adheres to the order, it will put an end to the close to 10 years since the LC1 have been operating illegally.
As if to provide a joke in the middle of a serious debate, MP Fungaroo Kaps (Obongi County), asked government if it was okay for the opposition to collect funds and carry out the LC1 elections seeing that government had failed to find money for the elections
Gen Otafiire responded, “If you so wish.”
Meanwhile, the Speaker Oulanyah, on the instigation of the Chief Whip, Ruth Nakabirwa, asked the Attorney General to return to the House next week and give a legal opinion on the status of transactions the LC1 committee have been executing yet they are illegal entities.
The LC1 elections debate has been an ongoing one from the 9th Parliament as the house passed the local government Amendment Act 2014. The amendment suggested that citizens line up behind the candidate of their choice. The amendments were suggested after Gen. Otafiire informed Parliament of governments lack of Shs200 billion to carry out the elections.
The bill was passed, however, Parliament did not appropriate money for the elections during the budget for financial year 2016/2017. Currently, all LC1’s all over the country are occupying the structures illegally for their term expired for more than 5 years