20 October 2017

Uganda: Government Considers Scrapping New Towns in Mukono

Mukono — The controversy surrounding the creation of three new town councils in Mukono District has taken a new twist with government hinting at the possibility of degazetting the administrative units.

This comes after complaints from a section of leaders in the district that the creation of the new town councils was not endorsed by local councils in the area.

Recently, the Local Government ministry elevated Katosi, Kisoga and Nakifuma to town council status.

Both Katosi and Nakifuma have been town boards, while Kisoga was a sub-county.

Under the new arrangement, Katosi Town Council will comprise one parish, Nsanja, and eight villages, while Kisoga has Ntanzi Parish and 10 villages.

Nakifuma will comprise six parishes: Nakanyonyi, Nagaalama, Makukuba, Naliga, Nabalanga and Namusuta and 53 villages.

But while addressing district leaders, including speakers, resident district commissioners and chief administrative officers from 20 districts in Mukono Town recently, the assistant commissioner of Local Council Development in the Local Government ministry, Mr Swizin Kinga Mugyema, said they had established that some town councils, especially in Mukono District, were created without following the due process of the law.

"We are considering degazetting some of the town councils because some of these administrative units are under contention, the local leaders were left out and it's the area MPs who made the resolution on their behalf, which wasn't proper," Mr Mugyema explained.

"The decision to create a local administrative unit has to pass through local councils. There are incidents where an MP comes and speaks for his constituency claiming all people in the area agreed, that one cannot be accepted," he said.

Mr Mugyema said some concerned residents have since gone to court, challenging the creation of the new administrative units, complaining that they were illegally created.

The other ground is that there were no resolutions made by the sub-county leaders.

Mr Mugyema said the ministry will soon dispatch a technical team to carry out investigations and if it is proven that residents were never consulted, the new local councils will be degazetted.

Mukono District Speaker Emmanuel Mbonye was the first to oppose the plan, saying the proposal was never approved by the district council.

"The only proposal we had was to elevate Katosi to a town council and the other two to become town boards, but we were surprised recently when we received a letter from the Local Government minister that Kisoga, Katosi and Nakifuma have all been elevated to town council standards," he said recently.

According to Mr Mbonye, some leaders are overzealous in demanding for new administrative units without considering their financial implications.

He decried increasing power struggles in local council administrations, something he said has stifled development.

When contacted, the Nakifuma County MP Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko, one of the legislators who supported the creation of new town councils, said they followed the right procedures to have new town councils approved.

"The issue is that they (leaders who claimed that they were never consulted) don't want to lose their electoral areas where they plan to stand in the next general elections," Mr Ssekitoleko said.

He added that Nakifuma Town Council in particular was created after merging Nakifuma Town Board and Nagaalama Sub-county to make one town council, which was seconded by a team from the Local Government ministry.

"At first, we had suggested that both (Nakifuma and Nagaalama) be elevated to town councils. However, the ministry of Local government said the two were too close to each other and could easily be merged," he explained.

He called upon the area MP, Mr Johnson Muyanja Ssenyonga, to meet the aggrieved parties and resolve the impasse.

However, when contacted, Mr Ssenyonga said he had no time to comment on an issue which he said had already been decided.

"We have all the ministerial statements and council minutes and they all clearly show how the process was handled," Mr Ssenyonga said,

He added: "The process requires to consult local leaders, not each individual in the area and that is what we exactly did."

Mukono District chairperson Andrew Ssenyonga welcomed the ministry's intervention, saying it will help to restore sanity in some areas where residents have been conflicting over boundaries of new town councils.

The three town councils were expected to become operational later this year.

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