So many ques­tions, very few an­swers on the 43 new coun­ties

By: MUSA MU­GOYA

On 15th July 2015, the min­is­ter for Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Hon Adolf Mwe­si­gye pre­sented to par­lia­ment a Mo­tion for a Res­o­lu­tion of Par­lia­ment to ap­prove the cre­ation of 39 coun­ties un­der Art 179(4) of the con­sti­tu­tion and Sec 7(7) of the lo­cal gov­ern­ment Act Cap 243. The mo­tion was re­ferred to Sec­toral Com­mit­tee on Pub­lic Ser­vices & Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment for ex­pe­di­tious con­sid­er­a­tion and there­after re­port back. Sub­se­quently, the com­mit­tee re­ported to the house with a rec­om­men­da­tion to cre­ate 65 coun­ties. And on July 29 2015 and Au­gust 4, 2015, the min­is­ter amended the mo­tion to add more one and three coun­ties re­spec­tively to bring the num­ber to 43 from the ear­lier 39. These coun­ties raise a lot of le­gal and pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion ques­tions but we shall only at­tempt to ad­dress the le­gal­i­ties while the vari­a­tion in the cost of pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion will be for next time.

In her mi­nor­ity re­port, a de­scent from the ma­jor­ity re­port, Betty Nam­boze MP Mukono Mu­nic­i­pal­ity de­scribed the min­is­ter’s le­gal ba­sis as il­le­gal by cit­ing Sec 45 of the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment (Amend­ment) Act 2013, which states that there shall be a coun­cil at each level of the ad­min­is­tra­tive units ex­cept for the county. This im­plies that the amend­ment abol­ished coun­ties as ad­min­is­tra­tive units- this ap­pears that the in­ten­tion of the min­is­ter is to cre­ate con­stituen­cies but dis­guis­ing with coun­ties. It is the Elec­toral com­mis­sion (EC) which could have been the ap­pro­pri­ate agency to cham­pion this process un­der Art 63 (5) of the con­sti­tu­tion which states that sub­ject to clause (1) of this ar­ti­cle, the com­mis­sion shall re­view the di­vi­sion of Uganda into con­stituen­cies within twelve months af­ter the pub­li­ca­tion of re­sults of a cen­sus of the pop­u­la­tion of Uganda and may as a re­sult re-de­mar­cate the con­stituen­cies. We should re­mind our­selves that the Uganda Bu­reau of Sta­tis­tics has only re­leased pro­vi­sional re­sults for the 2014 pop­u­la­tion cen­sus which the EC can’t base on to re-de­mar­cate con­stituen­cies.

While ap­pear­ing be­fore the com­mit­tee, Hon Mwe­si­gye gave the cri­te­ria he used in cre­at­ing these coun­ties as; one-county dis­tricts- the one-county dis­tricts make ad­min­is­tra­tion and gov­er­nance com­pli­cated and, there­fore, the de­ci­sion to split them into two or more coun­ties us­ing the yard­stick of at least 80,000 peo­ple; cul­tural di­ver­sity due to cul­tural di­ver­sity, there is need to em­power and eman­ci­pate the peo­ple of small cul­tural groups in an area; lo­cal eco­nomic di­ver­sity; there are ad­min­is­tra­tive units or coun­ties which en­com­pass dif­fer­ent eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties, which are some­times mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive. Plan­ning for di­verse ar­eas is very dif­fi­cult, there­fore the need to cre­ate dif­fer­ent units; Wishes of the Peo­ple; the wishes of the peo­ple are ex­pressed in the res­o­lu­tions of the dis­trict coun­cil.

This cri­te­ria raises more ques­tions. For ex­am­ple the com­mit­tee re­port ob­served that some coun­ties pro­posed by the Min­is­ter con­sisted of only one sub-county as in the case of Kachum­bala County con­sist­ing of Kachum­bala Sub County; Bu­lam­ogi North West County con­sist­ing of Nawaikoke Sub County; and Ik County con­sist­ing of Kamion Sub County. Is the min­is­ter cre­at­ing po­si­tions for sub-county Coun­cil­lors in par­lia­ment –  I be­lieve this is a ques­tion worth ask­ing.

Sec­ondly, go­ing with the cul­tural di­ver­sity cri­te­rion should the na­tions of Acholi, Lango, Bu­soga and Buganda for ex­am­ple, seek for a state sta­tus be­cause of their cul­tural dif­fer­ence from one an­other? And on ad­di­tion to that is gov­ern­ment just re­al­iz­ing these cul­tural di­ver­si­ties now in a long pe­riod these peo­ple have stayed to­gether? Will a one po­si­tion (Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment) have the ca­pac­ity to fos­ter eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment and eman­ci­pa­tion in the whole county? Why cre­ate an ad­min­is­tra­tive unit for only one per­son?

There­fore a proper pro­ce­dure which won’t leave room for am­bi­gu­ity should have be fol­lowed, that is the pop­u­la­tion quota pro­ce­dure as rec­og­nized un­der Art 63(7) of the Con­sti­tu­tion which states that for the pur­poses of this ar­ti­cle, “pop­u­la­tion quota” means the num­ber ob­tained by di­vid­ing the num­ber of in­hab­i­tants of Uganda by the num­ber of con­stituen­cies into which Uganda is to be di­vided un­der this ar­ti­cle. And not the ones given by the min­is­ter like eco­nomic di­ver­sity be­cause it’s our unique­ness that brings us to­gether to de­pend on one an­other.

These ques­tions are far too many – and they need to be an­swered so that we, the pop­u­lace un­der­stand the role of these new coun­ties in  the coun­try and why tax- pay­ers are pay­ing for 43 new mem­bers of Par­lia­ment.