Minister’s letter on new district confuses Bunyangabu residents

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There is confusion among residents of Bunyangabu County in Kabarole District after the Local Government minister, Mr Tom Butime, wrote a letter explaining that the new district carved from Kabarole will be run by an interim council when it commences operations in July.

Bunyangabu is among the newly created districts which will commence operations on July 1. It will be the fourth district carved out of Kabarole District after Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa and Kamwenge.

In a March 16 letter addressed to the Kabarole District chairperson on the guidelines for the establishment of new districts, Mr Butime indicated that the interim district council shall be established in accordance with Sections 180, 182 and 186 of the Local Government Act, CAP 243.

The minister explained that the district councillors whose electoral areas fall in the newly created district will automatically form the interim district council for the new district.

“An interim district council shall elect an interim district chairperson from among the members of the council by secret ballot supervised and conducted by the Electoral Commission,” the letter reads, in part.

The minister also indicated that the interim district council will neither have a speaker nor a deputy speaker but rather the interim district chairperson shall serve as both.

However, Mr Butime’s letter has brewed confusion among the residents in Bunyangabu, some of whom now think there will be separate polls for the district council and for the Woman Member of Parliament and have vowed to boycott any elections if all leaders in the new district are not elected at the same time.

The residents, led by Mr John Kyaligonza, have petition the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, about the issue.
“This is not only against the principles of democracy, but also a deprivation of citizens’ rights to exercise their mandate in a democratic society,” the petition read in part, adding: “It is absurd that the law and guidelines governing the exercise of interim governments are not pro natives and citizens of this nation”.

The residents argue that conducting interim elections is a wastage of money, urging the authorities to conduct a general election in order to save resources.

“We strongly believe that having these elections done at the same time will be cost effective because resources will be almost the same for all elections, including Woman Member of Parliament and [district] chairperson,” the petitioners argue.

When contacted about the proposed interim council, the Kabarole District Registrar for the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr Valley Kanzira Tumwesigye, said the EC has not yet released the roadmap for the new districts.

Mr Kanzira said he has been getting rumors that some people are going on radios telling people that the chairperson of the new Bunyangabu District will be elected by an interim district council.

“Those are just allegations following the letter written by the minister for Local Government but I want to put it clear that the minister cannot speak on behalf of the EC,” Mr Kanzira said.

He urged the residents to be patient and wait for the EC to release the electoral roadmap for the new District.

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