Republic Street in Mbale town

Residents of Mbale and Masaka Municipalities can now smile Ugandan Cabinet/ government has officially confirmed that the two towns will gain city status in the financial year 2021/21 alongside others like; Arua, Jinja, Mbarara, Gulu and Fort Portal.

The latest development was announced by Jennifer Namuyangu, the Minister of State for Local Government while addressing the media about this week’s Cabinet resolutions.

Minister Namuyangu said Cabinet on Monday approved the two towns as cities at State House Entebbe.

Analysts however say the two cities were included to boost political support for the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) as some residents from the two regions had threatened to vote for the biggest party in the country come 2021 general elections.

It should be remembered that Mbale and Masaka were initially not part of municipalities that were meant to gain city status in FY 2020/21 which raised concern from residents and politicians originating from Bugisu and Buganda regions respectively.

According to the minister, stakeholders from Mbale and Masaka proposed cities have expressed readiness for the two cities to become operational with effect from July 2020. Mbale and Masaka are one of the oldest towns in Uganda characterised by robust commerce and social activities.

Each of the seven earmarked cities, according to the minister will comprise of two divisions that will be equivalent to municipalities for easy administration and coordination.

However, last month, the Finance ministry permanent secretary and secretary to the treasury, Keith Muhakanizi said the 2020/21 budget does not cater for Masaka, Mbale and Mbarara as new cities alongside several town councils. It is not clear whether government has identified the funds that will go to the two cities.

She said Uganda’s Vision 2040 envisages an urbanized Uganda, an ambitious plan that seeks to elevate it to middle income status. There’s no doubt that the future of Uganda’s growth will continue to lie in new cities which will be Strategic and Regional.